Ha Jin moved to the U.S. from China in his late 20s. He joins Marrie Stone to talk about his immigrant experience, and some of the things he experienced as a child growing up in China, including the Cultural Revolution, his own family’s experience with book burning, and how the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square solidified his decision to remain in the United States.
The conversation also covers a lot of craft issues. The importance of knowing the ending of a novel before you begin, the challenges of writing a linear novel (with little to no backstory), how to tackle dialogue, and other advice he imparts to his students.
Jin learned English through the lens of literature, and that’s made all the difference in his writing. A Song Everlasting is published by Pantheon Books.
(Broadcast date: October 16, 2021)