"The Resisters is palpably loving, smart, funny, and desperately unsettling. The novel should be required reading for the country both as a cautionary tale and because it is a stone-cold masterpiece. This is Gish Jen's moment. She has pitched a perfect game." --Ann Patchett
The time: not so long from now. The place: AutoAmerica. The land: half under water. The Internet: one part artificial intelligence, one part surveillance technology, and oddly human--even funny. The people: Divided. The angel-fair "Netted" have jobs, and literally occupy the high ground. The "Surplus" live on swampland if they're lucky, on water if they're not.
The story: To a Surplus couple--he once a professor, she still a lawyer--is born a Blasian girl with a golden arm. At two, Gwen is hurling her stuffed animals from the crib; by ten, she can hit whatever target she likes. Her teens find her happily playing in an underground baseball league.
When AutoAmerica rejoins the Olympics, though--with a special eye on beating ChinRussia--Gwen attracts interest. Soon she finds herself playing ball with the Netted even as her mother challenges the very foundations of this divided society.
A moving and important story of an America that seems ever more possible, The Resisters is also the story of one family struggling to maintain its humanity and normalcy in circumstances that threaten their every value--as well as their very existence.
Extraordinary and ordinary, charming and electrifying, this is Gish Jen at her most irresistible.
A prodigious young athlete fights the oppression and poverty of her social class in this shrewd and provocative near-future novel from Jen (World and Town). In AutoAmerica, the Netted rule over an underclass called the Surplus, who receive Basic Income but aren't allowed to work and are denied basic human rights. Seventeen-year-old Gwen, a member of the Surplus and a star player in the Underground Baseball League, is tired of her oppressive life and wants to rise to the Netted class. She gets her chance when the Netted recruit her to help beat ChinRussia. Gwen faces a crisis of conscience as she looks back on those she would leave behind, including her friend Ondi, once banished for a month for sharing forbidden content on the internet, and her father, Grant (also the narrator), who intersperses anecdotes of brutal punishments faced by fellow members of their rank throughout. By placing the narration in Grant's measured, ironic voice, Jen shows how the Netted accomplished their subtle, Huxleyian takeover through bigotry and technology. While some of Jen's fans might miss the overt humor of her previous work, her intelligence and control shine through in a chilling portrait of the casual acceptance of totalitarianism.