10.ilb - 15.09 bis 26.10.10 - Focus Osteuropa
You are here: Home / Archive / Participants / Authors / 2008 / Ha Jin

Ha Jin  [ China, USA ]


Ha Jin Portrait
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2008, 2011, 2012, 2015.


München, 2000
[Ü: Susanne Hornfeck]

Im Teich
München, 2001
[Ü: Susanne Hornfeck]

Ein freies Leben
Berlin, 2009
[Ü: Sonja Hauser / Susanne Hornfeck]

Nanjing Requiem
Berlin, 2012
[Ü: Susanne Hornfeck]

A Map of Betrayal


New York, 2014

The son of an officer, Ha Jin was born Jin Xuefei in the northern Chinese town of Jinzhou in 1956. During the Cultural Revolution he joined the People’s Liberation Army and served for five and a half years along the Chinese-Soviet border. When the universities were re-opened in 1977, he studied English at Harbin University and subsequently American literature at Shadong University. In 1985 he went to Brandeis University on a scholarship to gain his doctorate. He finished the manuscript for his first book of poems, »Between Silences« (1990), three years later. After the bloody suppression of student protests on the Square of Heavenly Peace in Peking in 1989, he remained in the USA and attended, among others, the Creative Writing Program at Boston University. Following a period as a lecturer at Emory University in Atlanta, Ha Jin is currently Professor for English and Creative Writing at Boston University. He has been a US citizen since 1997.

Along with three volumes of poetry, Ha Jin has published three collections of short stories and five novels, for which he was awarded several of America’s most significant prizes. Like Nabokov and Conrad, he chose to write in English, his second language, which he employs with a laconic, clear and reserved style. »I want to be an American author because the immigrant experience has always been a distinctive part of American culture.« Yet China (and the fictitious Muji City) long remained the setting of Jin’s stories, which show normal people in their day-to-day lives and explore how individuality is oppressed by social norms and political constraints. His first novel, »In the Pond« (1998) is a social satire which recounts the story of a Chinese factory worker who fights against the injustices enforced by his superiors until he is promoted, and finally conforms. »Waiting« (2000), the novel which earned Jin international renown, tells of a love story set in 1960s China, which shatters under the burden of traditions. »War Trash« (2004) recounts a Chinese soldier’s experiences in the Korean War. Captured by American troops he is caught between the fronts of the pro-Nationalists and the pro-Communists, and witnesses boundless human cruelty from both sides. »A Free Life« (2007) is his first book set in the U.S. In it he takes on the experiences of first-generation Chinese immigrants as a theme. »A Free Life« (2007) is the author’s first story that takes place in the USA, and deals with the experiences of a Chinese immigrant there. In his most recent, very thoroughly researched novel »Nanking Requiem« (2011), Ha Jin tells the story of the American missionary Wilhelminde »Minnie« Vautrin, who saved the lives of thousands of women and children in Nanking during the Japanese army’s massacre of the Cinese civilian population in 1937.

Ha Jin’s numerous awards include the PEN/Hemingway Award, the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2008, he as a Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin. The author lives in Berlin.

© internationales literaturfestival berlin

Filed under: