Ha Jin came from China to America, to study literature. He was still planning to go back home when the People’s Army opened fire on students protesting in Tiananmen Square. Ha Jin decided then that he could never go home.
He stayed in America, teaching himself to write in English. His award winning prose is often compared to that of Kafka, and Tolstoy. Yet despite the critical acclaim he enjoys in the United States, Ha Jin says he remains a stranger in his chosen world. “To be a writer,” he says, “is a difficult way of life. But to be a writer in a foreign language is an incredibly lonely way of life.”
His latest book is set in China’s academic world at the time of Tiananmen. Ha Jin on the contradictions of art, home, and a life lived between two worlds.
Ha Jin, writer.