Exile's Letter

Ha Jin was a soldier in the People's Liberation Army during China's Cultural Revolution, before moving to the U.S. on a scholarship and, eventually, winning the National Book Award for his novel of a lovelorn Chinese army officer, Waiting. In his nonfiction debut, The Writer as Migrant, Ha Jin explores attempts by transplanted writers — among them Conrad, Nabokov and Beckett — to find connections between their adopted homes and native lands.

Some see themselves as ardent champions of their tribe (Ha Jin confides that he once viewed himself as "a Chinese writer who would write...

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