an interview with HA JIN Conducted by Jerry A. Varsava n acclaimed fiction writer, but also a Ph.D. in English (Brandeis, 1992), Ha Jin is fully mindful of operating within a number of powerful literary traditions: the writer as immigrant, as self-exile, as scholar, as human-rights advocate. As he discusses at length in The Writer as Migrant (2008), based on the 2006 Rice University Campbell Lectures, a number of celebrated writers--including Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov--have fashioned powerful idioms in English, a nonnative language for them. Both an immigrant and a self-exile, Ha Jin took it upon himself early in his career to be a spokesman in English for the downtrodden in China. Writing in the preface to Between Silences (1990), his first poetry collection, he calls himself a "fortunate one" who is speaking for "those unfortunate people who suffered, endured or perished at the bottom of life and who created history and at the same time were fooled or ruined by it." He acknowledges that, given the collectivistic biases of Chinese culture, it initially felt "almost natural" to assume this solicitous, patronizing role vis-a-vis his fellow Chinese. Ha Jin has more recently disavowed ` this self-assigned role,
Contemporary Literature – University of Wisconsin Press
Published: Jun 26, 2010
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