The Writer as Migrant

The Writer as Migrant 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 A

  • Title: The Writer as Migrant
  • Author: Ha Jin
  • ISBN: 9781282069978
  • Page: 185
  • Format: ebook
  • 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 fasAs 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.

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      Published :2019-03-19T21:10:11+00:00

    1 thought on “The Writer as Migrant”

    1. A slim book in which Ha Jin contemplates on the writer being an immigrant. The book explores what does leaving home do to writer's art, his ideas of home and his being in the world. The book contains three essays, 'The Spokesman and The Tribe', 'The Language of Betrayal' and 'An Individual's Homeland'. In these three essays, the author dwells on varied tropes of writer's life as a migrant. Almost all the writers, books that are discussed somehow defend, justify the role of a writer as an migrant [...]

    2. A great book that makes me reconsider the role of the writer as part of society, and more particularly, as part of a country or a culture. How the writer feels a duty to either defend or criticise, represent or reject their birthplace affects their work so deeply, and yet I hadn't given it much thought, choosing to work mainly on an individualistic level (which strikes me afresh as a luxury). But no writer is an island, it seems. There's also a great chapter about translated prose and writers wh [...]

    3. These are three essays on the notion of migration for the writer, mostly explained through other writers such as Nabokov, Conrad, Kundera and Naipaul.In the first essay, The Spokesman & the Tribe, Jin explores the balance between the individual and the collective, and asks to what extent a writer can 'speak for' his nation or people, especially if he has abandoned them to live in a new country. I was interested in his initial desire as a young writer to write "on behalf of the downtrodden Ch [...]

    4. I went into this one with high hopes and was disappointed. The unadorned prose that is the trademark of the author's fiction has failed him in criticism. The lectures here are artless and meandering, often more concerned with how the novels in question make Ha Jin *feel* rather than with judging them on their own merit (a cardinal sin in my book). The worst of them read like undergrad midterm essays.The one essay I enjoyed greatly, and the reason this book gets three stars instead of two, is the [...]

    5. A bit heavy if you're not a big literature buff. Ha Jin draws on V.S. Naipaul, Nabokov, Joyce, and a number of other names to make observations about writing from abroad and writing in a language that is not your native tongue. My favorite passage has to be when he rebuts the idea that becoming a writer in another language limits you only to being a writer that can be understood, not playful, as he draws on examples that prove otherwise and demonstrate the unique position exile or expat writers [...]

    6. I must admit that reading this book gave me a somewhat melancholy feeling as someone who has long written and lived with a certain sense of estrangement from my roots [1].  This experience is surely not unique, as the author manages to discuss a great many people who managed to write and write very well despite being cut off from their native roots, from Dante to Nabokov, and from Joseph Conrad to V.S. Naipal, all of which are writers I am familiar with and generally fond of.  The experience o [...]

    7. Who knew Ha Jin taught at BU? The little coincidences cohesive review here, just choice comments. I love that he quotes Rushdie- 'Roots, I sometimes think, are a conservative myth designed to keep us in places'. I love how he discusses the dangers of nostalgia- 'At the same time, the beauty and subtlety of the word "Ithaka" resides in its mythological resonance, which evokes something in the past of the traveler's origin- something that has shaped his imagined destination. Although he finally re [...]

    8. A very interesting book about the writing of writers who left their native countries and in different ways managed to exist in their adopted ones. How much do they want to come back to their home countries? (And what is "home" by the way?) To what extent do they feel they belong to the countries where they were born and to what extent do they feel they belong to the countries where they live? How do they define themselves and their writing between their present and the past that never goes away? [...]

    9. Ha Jin has become the Chinese writer Americans look to to Know Stuff About China -- supplanting Chinese American writers like, say, Amy Tan --but he speaks/writes rather convincingly against this notion in this book's first essay. Citing Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Lin Yutang, he argues that actually attempts by writers to be socially engaged or to be a spokesman for their people are ultimately useless: "The writer should enter history mainly through the avenue of his art."In the end, the book ma [...]

    10. Some intriguing ideas. I find the second essay the most interesting and useful, while the first is for me annoyingly judgmental (too many generalized "should" and "must" formulations). The third convinced me to read _The Odyssey_ at long last.Unfortunately, the book is filled with grammatical issues, infelicitous phrasings, punctuation errors, and other disturbing distractions. Shame on you for your carelessness here, U. of Chicago Press!

    11. This slim volume is focused on the immigrant/migrant experience of writers. However, as so many in the United States leave their birthhome to make their home in other states, there are applications to writers who domestically relocate, never to return. At play are nostalgia, longing, representing a land, culture or people that the writer him/herself may no longer have firsthand knowledge of and the changes in identity that both the homeland and the writer experience.

    12. Ha Jin had used many writers'examples in this book.He had collected a few private life stories of those writers, so as to find some proofs for his arguments. However, I felt this book is more like his own bibliography.

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