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Powell's Q&A

Ha Jin

Describe your latest project.
Ha Jin A Free Life is my first novel set in America, about the immigrant experience.

  1. A Free Life
    $2.50 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

    A Free Life

    Ha Jin
    "Capacious, pointillistic, empathic, and tender, Ha Jin's tale of one immigrant family's odyssey in America affirms humankind's essential mission, to honor life." Booklist (starred review)
What fictional character would you like to date, and why?
Lolita. Just curious to see what she is like as a middle-aged woman now.

Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Bernard Malamud and his story collection The Magic Barrel.

Writers are better liars than other people: true or false? Why, or not?
Yes, because they have to make people believe them all the time.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
This is from Chekhov: "I shall die alone."

How do you relax?
Walking in the woods, going to the health center, shopping with my wife, etc.

Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Usually I prefer to meet authors in their works. I did go to Oxford, Mississippi, and saw Faulkner's big house in the summer of 1986.

What is your idea of absolute happiness?
Having all the time to waste.

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.

Here are five books that deal with the experience of human migrations, including immigration, exile, displacement:

My Antonia by Willa Cather

Call It Sleep by Henry Roth

Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov

A Feather on the Breath of God by Sigrid Nunez

The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald

÷ ÷ ÷

Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 to attend Brandeis University. He is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Waiting, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Award; War Trash, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award; The Crazed; In the Pond; the story collections The Bridegroom, which won the Asian American Literary Award, Under the Red Flag, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and Ocean of Words, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award; and three books of poetry. He is a professor of English at Boston University and lives in the Boston area.

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