The Resisters: A Novel
Gish Jen's new book combines two things that I've previously loved in books, even though they're not my typical go-tos: dystopian fiction and baseball. The story is set in the indeterminate future, when society has broken down into what are essentially two castes: the Netted, and the Surplus. The Netted are the privileged ruling class, the producers whose role in the world is to create. And the Surplus only exist to consume what the Netted produce. Now they are work-less. To the Netted, that's the same as worth-less. Our narrator for this tale is Grant, a former professor and member of the Surplus class. Grant lives with his wife and their daughter, Gwen, now 17 years old. From the first line, we know that Gwen has never been a typical child. Gwen loves baseball—which is unfortunate because the sport has been outlawed. Word gets out about Gwen's amazing arm and pretty soon she's being recruited to cross over to the world of the Netted. The world Jen has created here is such a fascinating place to spend time in. Release date: February 4, 2020.
“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.