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The Writer as Migrant (The Rice University Campbell Lectures) Hardcover – 14 Nov 2008

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (14 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226399885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226399881
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,592,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"In arguing for a literature that transcends language, Ha Jin challenges us to rethink the basics. How important are the words in which a work is written? What value ought we place on its translatability? Opinionated, provocative and poignant, The Writer as Migrant is real grist for the mill." -- Gish Jen

"Jin's book is lucid and original. No author of his stature has treated this subject in such an inclusive manner. Highly Recommended."

"[The Writer As Migrant] demands to be read slowly, and savored. You may find yourself pausing frequently to think about some especially trenchant observation and to reflect on the generosity and intelligence with which [Ha Jin] helps us understand what makes us different from, and similar to, the people with whom we co-exist on our endlessly fascinating, precious, and increasingly populated world." -- Francine Prose "Washington Post Book World"

Though the issues are weighty, Jins prose is straightforward and welcoming. . . . In this poignant and provocative book, Jin takes us on this journey [to our envisioned homelands], revealing paths laid by migrant writers before him and perhaps by those who will follow.Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Chronicle -- Vanessa Hua "San Francisco Chronicle"

[The Writer As Migrant] demands to be read slowly, and savored. You may find yourself pausing frequently to think about some especially trenchant observation and to reflect on the generosity and intelligence with which [Ha Jin] helps us understand what makes us different from, and similar to, the people with whom we co-exist on our endlessly fascinating, precious, and increasingly populated world.Francine Prose, Washington Post Book World -- Francine Prose "Washington Post Book World"

“Ha Jin is uniquely placed to address the responsibilities and challenges of the displaced writer. Offering both historical context and a strong personal vision of the migrant writer in America today, these essays are thought-provoking, often inspiring, and, above all, unfailingly interesting.”--Claire Messud

“["The Writer As "Migrant] demands to be read slowly, and savored. You may find yourself pausing frequently to think about some especially trenchant observation and to reflect on the generosity and intelligence with which [Ha Jin] helps us understand what makes us different from, and similar to, the people with whom we co-exist on our endlessly fascinating, precious, and increasingly populated world.”—Francine Prose,
"Washington Post Book World"--Francine Prose "Washington Post Book World "

“Though the issues are weighty, Jin’s prose is straightforward and welcoming. . . . In this poignant and provocative book, Jin takes us on this journey [to our envisioned homelands], revealing paths laid by migrant writers before him and perhaps by those who will follow.”—Vanessa Hua, "San Francisco Chronicle"--Vanessa Hua "San Francisco Chronicle "

"[Jin] writes with admirations and delicacy about writers as diverse as V.S. Naipaul and W.G. Sebald. . . . Unsurprisingly, many of the books most valuable passages concern the craft of writing."--Francine Prose "New York Times Book Review "

"["The Writer As "Migrant] demands to be read slowly, and savored. You may find yourself pausing frequently to think about some especially trenchant observation and to reflect on the generosity and intelligence with which [Ha Jin] helps us understand what makes us different from, and similar to, the people with whom we co-exist on our endlessly fascinating, precious, and increasingly populated world."--Francine Prose,
"Washington Post Book World"--Francine Prose "Washington Post Book World "

"Ha Jin is uniquely placed to address the responsibilities and challenges of the displaced writer. Offering both historical context and a strong personal vision of the migrant writer in America today, these essays are thought-provoking, often inspiring, and, above all, unfailingly interesting."--Claire Messud

"Though the issues are weighty, Jin's prose is straightforward and welcoming. . . . In this poignant and provocative book, Jin takes us on this journey [to our envisioned homelands], revealing paths laid by migrant writers before him and perhaps by those who will follow."--Vanessa Hua "San Francisco Chronicle "

"["The Writer As" Migrant] demands to be read slowly, and savored. You may find yourself pausing frequently to think about some especially trenchant observation and to reflect on the generosity and intelligence with which [Ha Jin] helps us understand what makes us different from, and similar to, the people with whom we co-exist on our endlessly fascinating, precious, and increasingly populated world."

--Francine Prose "Washington Post Book World "

""The Writer as Migrant" serves as an excellent primer into the migrant experience, and makes a good read for anyone who has lived 'elsewhere.'"--Deji Olukotun "World Literature Today "

Though the issues are weighty, Jin s prose is straightforward and welcoming. . . . In this poignant and provocative book, Jin takes us on this journey [to our envisioned homelands], revealing paths laid by migrant writers before him and perhaps by those who will follow. --Vanessa Hua "San Francisco Chronicle ""

Ha Jin is uniquely placed to address the responsibilities and challenges of the displaced writer. Offering both historical context and a strong personal vision of the migrant writer in America today, these essays are thought-provoking, often inspiring, and, above all, unfailingly interesting. --Claire Messud"

["The Writer As" Migrant] demands to be read slowly, and savored. You may find yourself pausing frequently to think about some especially trenchant observation and to reflect on the generosity and intelligence with which [Ha Jin] helps us understand what makes us different from, and similar to, the people with whom we co-exist on our endlessly fascinating, precious, and increasingly populated world.
--Francine Prose "Washington Post Book World ""

"Through this tangle of voluntary and forced migrations, Ha Jin offers the reader a string of glittering insights. For example, that exiles, like Tennyson's Ulysses, can confuse personal longing with collective need; . . . that nostalgia is never more than individual longing; that memory, when manipulated for even the best of reasons, can become a dangerous falsehood. Alberto Manguel, "Spectator"--Alberto Manguel "Spectator ""

About the Author

Ha Jin is the author of five novels, including A Free Life and War Trash, the latter of which was the recipient of the PEN/Faulkner Award, as well as three collections of short stories and three books of poetry. He teaches at Boston University.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These are three essays on the notion of migration for the writer, mostly explained through other writers such as Nabokov, Conrad, Kundera and Naipaul.

In the first essay, The Spokesman & the Tribe, Jin explores the balance between the individual and the collective, and asks to what extent a writer can 'speak for' his nation or people, especially if he has abandoned them to live in a new country. I was interested in his initial desire as a young writer to write "on behalf of the downtrodden Chinese". He makes it clear that he later abandoned this position, but I would have liked to know more about how and why.

In fact, throughout the whole book I would have liked to know more about Ha Jin's thoughts on migration. His journey, after all, was an interesting one - from an uneducated teenage soldier in the Chinese army during the Cultural Revolution to a professor at Boston University and author of five novels, a couple of which I've read and greatly enjoyed. I would have liked him to draw on his own experience of migration, but he does so only rarely, in small glimpses like the one mentioned above. Mostly what we have is a survey of other writers and their thoughts on migration - quite interesting, but for me ultimately unsatisfying because there was no clear overall argument or point of view to draw the whole thing together.

The second essay, The Language of Betrayal, deals with the decision to write in another language. Again, Jin does not speak of his own decision to write in English and whether he feels this is a betrayal -- instead we hear about Joseph Conrad being criticised for abandoning the Polish language, and Nabokov's difficulty writing poetry in English even though he was a master of prose.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov, and other emigre writers 28 Aug. 2009
By R. M. Peterson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ha Jin is a Chinese emigre who has written in English five well-received novels ("Waiting" won both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award), as well as many short stories and three books of poems. With each of his publications he becomes more conspicuous among the still relatively select group of authors who have distinguished themselves writing in a language other than their native one.

THE WRITER AS MIGRANT is Ha Jin's first published work of non-fiction. It is a collection of three inter-related essays, which apparently made their first appearance as the Campbell Lectures at Rice University. Despite the implication of the title, the essays do not postulate and develop the theme that all writers are migrants (although, I suppose, that is a plausible theme). Rather, the subject of Ha Jin's essays is writers of fiction, like himself, who emigrated from their native country or homeland, and especially those who then wrote in a language other than their native tongue. Among those discussed are Solzhenitsyn, Lin Yutang, V.S. Naipul, W.G. Sebald, Joseph Conrad, Milan Kundera, and Vladimir Nabokov.

The chief flaw of the book is that it is so brief (86 pages of text). A minor one is that the essays are not quite as focused and polished as one might wish. (They probably were fine for oral presentation as lectures.) But Ha Jin proves himself to be an insightful literary critic and his comments on the special problems confronting "migrant" writers like those named above obviously command attention given his shared background. For me, the highlights of the book were his discussions of Conrad and Nabokov and Sebald's novel "The Emigrants." Ha Jin's prose, like that of his novels, is relatively simple and straightforward; it is not, thankfully, academic. THE WRITER AS MIGRANT is neither great or profound, but for those interested in the subject or the authors discussed, it probably will be of some merit.
4.0 out of 5 stars Well penned 15 April 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very relevant read to add to a literature review for my thesis. His three essays are well constructed and explain much of the impetus driving the migrant's pen. Well recommended for anyone who finds themself writing outside their homeland, whether as exile or immigrant.
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