Ha Jin biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Ha Jin.

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Ha Jin

Ha Jin

Ha Jin Biography

Xuefei Jin, who writes under the pseudonym Ha Jin, was born in 1956 in Liaoning Province in northern China. His father was a military officer. In 1969, at only 14 years of age, Ha Jin joined the People's Liberation Army based at the northeastern border between China and the former Soviet Union. While in the army he began teaching himself middle and high-school courses. After his military service ended, he taught himself English while working the night shift as a railroad telegrapher in Jiamusi, a remote frontier city in the Northeast. During this time he followed the English learner's program, hoping "someday to read Friedrich Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 in the English original".

In 1977, when colleges reopened after the Cultural Revolution, he passed the entrance exams and was assigned to study English.  Although this was his last choice for a major, Ha Jin received a B.A. from Heilongjiang University and a Masters in Anglo-American literature at Shandong University.  He came to the United States in 1985 to do graduate work at Brandeis University, supporting himself as a busboy in a Chinese restaurant and as a night watchman in a factory.

In 1993 he earned a Ph.D. in English from Brandeis. He intended to return to China after completing his dissertation, but after watching televised coverage of the Tiananmen Square massacre, he and his wife decided to make a life with their son in the United States, and when Jin couldn't find teaching work, he turned to writing instead, eventually finding employment at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

He has published two collections of poetry, Between Silences (1990) and Facing Shadows (1996), and two collections of short fiction, Ocean of Words (1996), which received the PEN/Hemingway award, and Under the Red Flag (1997), which won the Flannery O'Connor Award. In the Pond was published in 1998. His novel Waiting won the National Book Award for fiction in 1999, as well as the PEN/Faulkner award. He has also written the story collection, The Bridegroom, which won the Asian American Literary Award, and the novels The Crazed and In the Pond. In 2004 he published War Trash; A Free Life followed in 2007. He lives in the Boston area and is a professor of English at Boston University.


Bibliography

Novels

  • In the Pond (1998)
  • Waiting (1999)
  • The Crazed (2002)
  • War Trash (2004)
  • A Free Life (2007)

Collections

  • Between Silences: A Voice from China (poems, 1990)
  • Facing Shadows (poems, 1996)
  • Ocean of Words: Army Stories (1996)
  • Under the Red Flag (stories, 1997)
  • The Bridegroom (stories, 2000)
  • Wreckage (poems, 2001)
  • The Writer as Migrant (essays, 2008)

This biography was last updated on 08/01/2011.

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Recommended in Detail at BookBrowse

A Free Life
A Free Life

by Ha Jin

A moving, realistic, but always hopeful narrative novel of the Wu family - father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao - as they fully sever their ties with China in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre and begin a new, free life in the United States.
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Ha Jin but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Martin Amis

    Martin Amis

    Martin Amis was born Martin Louis Amis on 25 August 1949, the second of three children to Kingsley and Hilary (Hilly) Amis (nee Bardwell). He is the author of twelve previous novels, the memoir Experience, two collections of ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    War Trash

    Try:
    House of Meetings
    by Martin Amis

  • Russell Banks

    Russell Banks

    Russell Banks was raised in New Hampshire and eastern Massachusetts. The eldest of four children, he grew up in a working-class environment, which has played a major role in his writing.

    Mr. Banks (who was the first in his... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    War Trash

    Try:
    The Darling
    by Russell Banks

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