A Free Life | Los Angeles Public Library
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A Free Life

In conversation with Seth Faison
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Episode Summary

In this new novel by the National Book Award-winning author of Waiting, an émigré Chinese writer opens a restaurant in Atlanta in a daunting attempt to find his voice as a poet, support his family, and realize the American Dream.

Participant(s) Bio
Born in mainland China, Ha Jin grew up in a small rural town in Liaoning Province. He served in the People's Liberation Army, staying at the northeastern border between China and the former Soviet Union. He studied American literature at Shandong University, and did graduate work in the U.S. at Brandeis University, from which he earned a Ph.D. in English. After the Tiananmen massacre, he realized it would be impossible to write honestly in China, so he decided to immigrate. Ha Jin was awarded the National Book Award for Waiting and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Waiting and War Trash. His other books include The Crazed, The Bridgegroom and Oceans of Words. He is a professor of English at Boston University.

Seth Faison spent 12 years living in China, mostly as a journalist. He traveled by train, truck and boat, exploring almost every province in China. Faison became a reporter and covered the Tiananmen student movement and massacre for the South China Morning Post. He joined the New York Times in 1991, specializing in Asian Organized Crime and people smuggling. He was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for spot news coverage of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. In 1995, he was named Bureau Chief in Shanghai, where he served five years, writing about the deep social and economic change underway, and earned a reputation as a writer skilled at capturing the moods and flavors of China.