The Writer as Migrant Hardcover – Nov 1 2008
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“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)
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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