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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

A Good Fall (Vintage International)

by

A Good Fall (Vintage International) Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

1. In the opening story of A Good Fall, the narrator thinks: “I used to believe that in the United States you could always reshape your relationships with the people back home—you could restart your life on your own terms. But the Internet has spoiled everything—my family is able to get hold of me whenever they like. They might as well live nearby” (pp. 5–6). In what other stories does the theme suggested in this passage—the desire to escape the past and start a new life in America—appear?

2. What role does the setting—Flushing, Queens—play in these stories?

3. The main characters in the stories of A Good Fall are, in many ways, quite different from one another, running the gamut from an English professor to a prostitute. In what ways are they and their situations similar?

4. In “A Composer and His Parakeets,” Fanlin is composing the music for an opera in which the hero claims that “greatness in art is merely an accident.” But Fanlin cannot accept this idea and feels that “no art should be accidental” (p. 12). What accidents in the story inspire Fanlin’s own artistic creation? In what other stories do accidents play a major role?

5. What expectations do the protagonists of these stories bring to the United States? In what ways are those expectations frustrated or fulfilled?

6. How do the characters in these stories try to solve the dilemmas they find themselves in? What are some examples of their resilience and resourcefulness?

7. In “A Pension Plan,” Minna tells Niu, “I do trust you, Aunt Niu, but we’re in America now, where even the air can make people change” (p. 170). How are the main characters in these stories changed by America? How does being in American change the way they view their homeland?

8. How does America appear as seen through the eyes of the Chinese immigrants in A Good Fall? What challenges and opportunities does America present for them?

9. In “Temporary Love,” Lina’s husband essentially blackmails her into paying for his business school tuition. In what other stories are characters pressured financially or treated unfairly over money?

10. What are the pleasures of Ha Jin’s storytelling style? How does he manage to make his writing at once so simple and so engaging?

11. Short stories generally revolve around a conflict that is introduced, developed, and then either resolved or left open. What kinds of conflicts occur in the stories of A Good Fall? Which stories exhibit strong closure? Which ones are more open-ended?  

12. How has Ha Jin ordered the stories in A Good Fall? Is there a clear progression? Why would he end the collection with a story in which the protagonist attempts to kill himself?

13. Much of what happens in the book is peculiar to Chinese immigrants, but what aspects of these stories might be true of the immigrant experience more generally?

14. The stories in A Good Fall are pervaded by anxiety and an often brutal struggle to survive. What moments of tenderness and compassion stand out?

15. How might these stories be received by Chinese contemplating emigration to the United States?

(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit www.readinggroupcenter.com)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307473943
Author:
Jin, Ha
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
20101031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.01 x 5.16 x 0.75 in 0.625 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

A Good Fall (Vintage International) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780307473943 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In his first book of stories since The Bridegroom, National Book Award-winning author Ha Jin gives us a collection that delves into the experience of Chinese immigrants in America.

A lonely composer takes comfort in the antics of his girlfriend's parakeet; young children decide to change their names so they might sound more American, unaware of how deeply this will hurt their grandparents; a Chinese professor of English attempts to defect with the help of a reluctant former student. All of Ha Jin's characters struggle to remain loyal to their homeland and its traditions while also exploring the freedom that life in a new country offers.

Stark, deeply moving, acutely insightful, and often strikingly humorous, A Good Fall reminds us once again of the storytelling prowess of this superb writer.

"Synopsis" by , National Book Award-winner Ha Jin offers a collection that delves into the experience of Chinese immigrants in America. He depicts the full spectrum of immigrant life and the daily struggles--some minute, some grand--faced by these intriguing individuals.
"Synopsis" by , In his first book of stories since The Bridegroom, National Book Award-winning author Ha Jin gives us a collection that delves into the experience of Chinese immigrants in America.

A lonely composer takes comfort in the antics of his girlfriend's parakeet; young children decide to change their names so they might sound more "American," unaware of how deeply this will hurt their grandparents; a Chinese professor of English attempts to defect with the help of a reluctant former student. All of Ha Jin's characters struggle to remain loyal to their homeland and its traditions while also exploring the freedom that life in a new country offers.

Stark, deeply moving, acutely insightful, and often strikingly humorous, A Good Fall reminds us once again of the storytelling prowess of this superb writer.

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