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A free life
Ha Jin
Adult Fiction JIN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Ha Jin, who emigrated from China in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square, had only been writing in English for 12 years when he won the National Book Award for Waiting in 1999. His latest novel sheds light on an emigre writer's woodshedding period. It follows the fortunes of Nan Wu, who drops out of a U.S. grad school after the repression of the democracy movement in China, hoping to find his voice as a poet while supporting his wife, Pingping, and son, Taotao. After several years of spartan living, Nan and Pingping save enough to buy a Chinese restaurant in suburban Atlanta, setting up double tensions: between Nan's literary hopes and his career, and between Nan and Pingping, who, at the novel's opening, are staying together for the sake of their young boy. While Pingping grows more independent, Nan-amid the dulling minutiae of running a restaurant and worries about mortgage payments, insurance and schooling-slowly snuffs the torch he carries for his first love. That Nan at one point reads Dr. Zhivago isn't coincidental: while Ha Jin's novel lacks Zhivago's epic grandeur, his biggest feat may be making the reader wonder whether the trivialities of American life are not, in some ways, as strange and barbaric as the upheavals of revolution. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

National Book Award winner Ha Jin puts a contemporary spin on that mainstay of American fiction, the immigrant success story. The Wu family-Nan; his wife, Pingping; and their young son, Taotao-come to the United States at the end of the 1980s. Nan is a graduate exchange student studying political science in Boston, but his secret hope is to become a poet. The Chinese government's crackdown on political dissidents following the Tiananmen Square massacre so disillusions him that he drops out of school and becomes a U.S. resident. In order to support the family, both Nan and Pingping hold an assortment of jobs-caretaker for a wealthy suburban family, night clerk at a motel, and Chinese chef. Eventually, after moving to Atlanta, where the climate recalls their homeland, they buy a Chinese restaurant and a house and achieve a modest version of the American dream. There are some confusing and embarrassing incidents as the Wus adapt to American and Southern life, but on the whole the setbacks are minor. Jason Ma's narration sparkles! His Chinese accent influences American regional speech (Boston, New York, and Georgia) so that the listener hears the story from Nan's point of view. An inspiring and affirming tale for public library collections.-Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Nan Wu
Left China for a fresh start in the United States; drops out of grad school; hopes to find his voice as a poet; buys a Chinese restaurant; tension between his literary hopes and his career as well as within his marriage; still feels ties to his homeland; stil lin love with a woman who rejected him in his youth.

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