BOOKS: ALIEN LAND

MODERN-DAY FOLKTALES THAT SHOW THE REAL CHINA

Who is Ha Jin, and why has his slender collection of published work already earned him the PEN/Faulkner prize for fiction and the Flannery O'Connor Award, plus a handful of other literary accolades? The answer hinges partly on the accident of his birth and the raw materials that fed his literary imagination. Now 41 and teaching English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, Ha Jin had the good luck to be born outside the U.S. and hence be protected from the homogenizing and potentially trivializing influences that afflict so many U.S.-born aspiring authors. Beginners are advised to "write about...

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