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.
In the Pond (1998)
The Crazed (2002)
War Trash (2004)
A Free Life (2007)
Nanjing Requiem (2011)
A Map of Betrayal (2014)
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)
A Good Fall (2009)
This biography was last updated on 07/03/2016.
A note about the biographies
We try to keep BookBrowse's biographies both up to date and accurate. However, with over 2500 lives to keep track of it's inevitable that some won't be as current or as complete as we would like. So, please help us - if the information about a particular author is out of date, inaccurate or simply very short, and you know of a more complete source, please let us know. Authors and those connected with authors: If you wish to make changes to your bio, please send your complete biography as you would like it displayed so that we can replace the old with the new.
Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions
Win 5 books, each week in July!
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.
Your guide toexceptional books
BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.