The Writer as Migrant and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player


Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading The Writer as Migrant on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

The Writer as Migrant (The Rice University Campbell Lectures) [Hardcover]

Ha Jin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

List Price: $14.00
Price: $11.75 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
You Save: $2.25 (16%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Want it Monday, July 14? Choose One-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $9.99  
Hardcover $11.75  
Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on the current pick, "Landline" by Rainbow Rowell.

Book Description

November 1, 2008 0226399885 978-0226399881 First Edition
As a teenager during China’s Cultural Revolution, Ha Jin served as an uneducated soldier in the People’s Liberation Army. Thirty years later, a resident of the United States, he won the National Book Award for his novel Waiting, completing a trajectory that has established him as one of the most admired exemplars of world literature.
            Ha Jin’s journey raises rich and fascinating questions about language, migration, and the place of literature in a rapidly globalizing world—questions that take center stage in The Writer as Migrant, his first work of nonfiction. Consisting of three interconnected essays, this book sets Ha Jin’s own work and life alongside those of other literary exiles, creating a conversation across cultures and between eras. He employs the cases of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Chinese novelist Lin Yutang to illustrate the obligation a writer feels to the land of his birth, while Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov—who, like Ha Jin, adopted English for their writing—are enlisted to explore a migrant author’s conscious choice of a literary language. A final essay draws on V. S. Naipaul and Milan Kundera to consider the ways in which our era of perpetual change forces a migrant writer to reconceptualize the very idea of home. Throughout, Jin brings other celebrated writers into the conversation as well, including W. G. Sebald, C. P. Cavafy, and Salman Rushdie—refracting and refining the very idea of a literature of migration.
            Simultaneously a reflection on a crucial theme and a fascinating glimpse at the writers who compose Ha Jin’s mental library, The Writer as Migrant is a work of passionately engaged criticism, one rooted in departures but feeling like a new arrival.

Frequently Bought Together

The Writer as Migrant (The Rice University Campbell Lectures) + A Free Life (Vintage International) + Waiting: A Novel
Price for all three: $39.20

Buy the selected items together

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jin, a Boston University professor and award-winning expatriate novelist (A Free Life), presents a brief meditation on writing in the "migrant" tradition ("including "exiles, emigrants, immigrants, and refugees") covering authors like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Vladimir Nabokov and V. S. Naipaul. Though stiff and self-regarding, Jin has some interesting insight into these writers' process and reception; curiously, Jin considers several cases of writers working in their adopted language rather than their primary language, but doesn't discuss his own decision to work in English instead of Mandarin Chinese. Opinions range from sharp and negligibly inoffensive ("nostalgia is never a collective emotion") to blanket statements that hold little water ("other than slaking the writer's nostalgia, the writer's physical return to his native land has little meaning"). Though he warns up front that "my observations are merely that-my observations," Jin often seems to assert opinion as fact ("writers do not make good generals, and today literature is ineffective at social change"). Though he has some engaging points to make regarding the handful of (exclusively male) writers he considers, Jin's obtuse text is hardly welcoming, limiting its appeal to more serious students of world literature.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Though the issues are weighty, Jin’s prose is straightforward and welcoming. . . . In this poignant and provocative book, Jin takes us on this journey [to our envisioned homelands], revealing paths laid by migrant writers before him and perhaps by those who will follow.”
(Vanessa Hua San Francisco Chronicle)

“Ha Jin is uniquely placed to address the responsibilities and challenges of the displaced writer. Offering both historical context and a strong personal vision of the migrant writer in America today, these essays are thought-provoking, often inspiring, and, above all, unfailingly interesting.”
(Claire Messud)

“Jin’s book is lucid and original. No author of his stature has treated this subject in such an inclusive manner. Highly Recommended.”


“[The Writer As Migrant] demands to be read slowly, and savored. You may find yourself pausing frequently to think about some especially trenchant observation and to reflect on the generosity and intelligence with which [Ha Jin] helps us understand what makes us different from, and similar to, the people with whom we co-exist on our endlessly fascinating, precious, and increasingly populated world.”

(Francine Prose Washington Post Book World)

"Ha Jin questions the author's nostalgia for home and conjures up another dwelling place in the house of literature. . . . These essays offer a thoughtful and thought-provoking defence of the author's right to define his own reasons for writing and to fashion his own home."—Times Higher Education
(Times Higher Education)

"[Jin] writes with admirations and delicacy about writers as diverse as V.S. Naipaul and W.G. Sebald. . . . Unsurprisingly, many of the books most valuable passages concern the craft of writing."
(Francine Prose New York Times Book Review)

"Through this tangle of voluntary and forced migrations, Ha Jin offers the reader a string of glittering insights. For example, that exiles, like Tennyson's Ulysses, can confuse personal longing with collective need; . . . that nostalgia is never more than individual longing; that memory, when manipulated for even the best of reasons, can become a dangerous falsehood.—Alberto Manguel, Spectator
(Alberto Manguel Spectator)

"The Writer as Migrant serves as an excellent primer into the migrant experience, and makes a good read for anyone who has lived 'elsewhere.'"
(Deji Olukotun World Literature Today)

Product Details

  • Series: The Rice University Campbell Lectures
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; First Edition edition (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226399885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226399881
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #601,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Ha Jin is a Chinese emigre who has written in English five well-received novels ("Waiting" won both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award), as well as many short stories and three books of poems. With each of his publications he becomes more conspicuous among the still relatively select group of authors who have distinguished themselves writing in a language other than their native one.

THE WRITER AS MIGRANT is Ha Jin's first published work of non-fiction. It is a collection of three inter-related essays, which apparently made their first appearance as the Campbell Lectures at Rice University. Despite the implication of the title, the essays do not postulate and develop the theme that all writers are migrants (although, I suppose, that is a plausible theme). Rather, the subject of Ha Jin's essays is writers of fiction, like himself, who emigrated from their native country or homeland, and especially those who then wrote in a language other than their native tongue. Among those discussed are Solzhenitsyn, Lin Yutang, V.S. Naipul, W.G. Sebald, Joseph Conrad, Milan Kundera, and Vladimir Nabokov.

The chief flaw of the book is that it is so brief (86 pages of text). A minor one is that the essays are not quite as focused and polished as one might wish. (They probably were fine for oral presentation as lectures.) But Ha Jin proves himself to be an insightful literary critic and his comments on the special problems confronting "migrant" writers like those named above obviously command attention given his shared background. For me, the highlights of the book were his discussions of Conrad and Nabokov and Sebald's novel "The Emigrants." Ha Jin's prose, like that of his novels, is relatively simple and straightforward; it is not, thankfully, academic. THE WRITER AS MIGRANT is neither great or profound, but for those interested in the subject or the authors discussed, it probably will be of some merit. Three-and-a-half stars, rounded up.
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Well penned April 15, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A very relevant read to add to a literature review for my thesis. His three essays are well constructed and explain much of the impetus driving the migrant's pen. Well recommended for anyone who finds themself writing outside their homeland, whether as exile or immigrant.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category