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Extended Audio Sample World and Town: A Novel, by Gish Jen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (314 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gish Jen Narrator: Janet Song Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Sixty-eight-year-old Hattie Kong, descendant of Confucius, daughter of an American missionary, has lived to see both her husband and her best friend die back-to-back in a single year: “It was like having twins…She got to book the same church with the same pianist for both funerals and did think she should have gotten some sort of twofer from the crematorium.”

But two years later, it’s time for Hattie to start over. She moves to a small New England town where she is soon joined by a Cambodian American family and an ex-lover—now a retired neuroscientist—all of them looking for their own new lives.

What Hattie makes of this situation and of the changing town of Riverlake—challenged as it is, in 2001, by fundamentalist Christians, struggling family farms, and unexpected immigrants—lies at the center of a novel that asks deep and absorbing questions about religion, home, and what “worlds” we make of the world.

Moving, humorous, and broad-ranging, World and Town is rich in character and brilliantly evocative of its time and place. This is a masterful novel from one of our most admired writers.

Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “One of Jen’s greatest strengths is her fluid point of view, which she employs beautifully here, alternating perspectives among Hattie, Sophy, and a local man named Everett, whose wife is Sophy’s sponsor at the Heritage Bible Church. Nothing is fixed for these unsettled characters, who keep trying to build new lives in a bewildering world, and whose victories, when they come, bring not rapture but ‘a defining grace, bittersweet and hard-won.’”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “In this thick, satisfying sprawl of a read…Jen gracefully introduces some of the great issues of our time.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Jen unwinds another expansive story of identity and acceptance, deploying voices that are as haunting and revealing as they are original…Jen’s prose is unique, dense, and enthralling, and her characters are marvels of authenticity.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Sharply funny and wisely compassionate, Jen’s richly stippled novel slyly questions every assumption about existence and meaning even as it celebrates generosity, friendship, and love.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “New lives, new towns, new worlds revolve around the character of Hattie Kong, a retired high school biology teacher who has moved to a New England town. Janet Song performs Gish Jen's absorbing novel with tones that evoke the heroine’s Asian heritage and inner knowledge. Song moves through three vocal sensibilities with precision and clarity—an American accent, an Asian accent, and deftly suggested Asian dialects. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “Lovely…Jen is masterful at mixing keen observation with wit and wisdom, and she is in top form here.”


  •   Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  •   A Booklist Editors’ Choice for2010: Fiction
  •  A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Pamela | 2/12/2014

    " So far, really enjoying this. It is rare -- and wonderful, in this case -- to find a 68-year-old female protagonist. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Karen | 2/1/2014

    " saving it for book group "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Jaclyn | 1/17/2014

    " I dragged myself through a hundred pages, and the ebook expired (from the library). I'm not going to put it back on hold... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tonya | 1/12/2014

    " This was an okay book, parts of it I really did enjoy, but parts seemed to drag on a bit for me. I liked the story telling with the different points of view, but some seemed very long (Sophy) and some were never mentioned that I would have liked to hear, (Sarun or Chunng). "

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