Aug 17, 2009
Ha Jin was born in China in 1956. After Tiananmen Square, he emigrated to the United States. Unlike most exiled writers Ha Jin was not established in his native language; he had no audience in Chinese, and so chose to write in English. He has published three collections of poetry, including Between Silences and Facing Shadows, and three collections of short fiction, Ocean of Words, received the PEN/Hemingway Award, and Under the Red Flag, won the Flannery O’Connor Award. His novel Waiting won the National Book Award for fiction as well as the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999. In 2004, he published War Trash, which also won the PEN/Faulkner Award. He lives in the Boston area and is a professor of English at Boston University. We met in Ottawa to talk about his first book of non-fiction The Writer as Migrant . Adapted from The Rice University Campbell Lecture he delivered in 2006, the book consists of three interconnected essays exploring the experience of the migrant, ‘exiled’ writers in relation to their ‘home’ countries and languages. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Lin Yutang, Homer, Joseph Conrad , Vladimir Nabokov and others all contribute to the conversation.