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A Free Life (Vintage International) Paperback – January 27, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Ha Jin, who emigrated from China in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square, had only been writing in English for 12 years when he won the National Book Award for Waiting in 1999. His latest novel sheds light on an émigré writer's woodshedding period. It follows the fortunes of Nan Wu, who drops out of a U.S. grad school after the repression of the democracy movement in China, hoping to find his voice as a poet while supporting his wife, Pingping, and son, Taotao. After several years of spartan living, Nan and Pingping save enough to buy a Chinese restaurant in suburban Atlanta, setting up double tensions: between Nan's literary hopes and his career, and between Nan and Pingping, who, at the novel's opening, are staying together for the sake of their young boy. While Pingping grows more independent, Nan—amid the dulling minutiae of running a restaurant and worries about mortgage payments, insurance and schooling—slowly snuffs the torch he carries for his first love. That Nan at one point reads Dr. Zhivago isn't coincidental: while Ha Jin's novel lacks Zhivago's epic grandeur, his biggest feat may be making the reader wonder whether the trivialities of American life are not, in some ways, as strange and barbaric as the upheavals of revolution. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Since emigrating from China to America in the 1980s to study literature, Ha Jin has become one of the most celebrated voices in American literature. A Free Life is his first "American" book, a "Chekhovian portrait of life and its soothing dailiness" (Vikram Johri) that explores the meaning of a truly free life. Critics often comment on the authorâs lyricism and the fluidity of his prose (interestingly, one reviewer notes a connection between Jin and John Steinbeck, while another noted a deficiency in prose). Although rarely plot-driven, Jinâs novels instead unfold slowlyâ"like life itself. A Free Life offers the greatest reward to those who read with patience and in quiet contemplation, absorbing the authorâs passion for language.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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I recommend it to anyone/everyone with an interest in Chinese culture