Vintage International

A Free Life

BY Ha Jin
Publisher: Vintage

A New York Times Notable Book

One of the Best Books of the Year: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Entertainment Weekly, Slate

 In A Free Life, Ha Jin follows the Wu family — father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao — as they sever their ties with China in the aftermath of the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square and begin a new life in the United States. As Nan takes on a number of menial jobs, eventually operating a restaurant with Pingping, he struggles to adapt to the American way of life and to hold his family together, even as he pines for a woman he loved and lost in his youth. Ha Jin's prodigious talents are in full force as he brilliantly brings to life the struggles and successes of the contemporary immigrant experience.

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Chapter One

Finally Taotao got his passport and visa. For weeks his parents had feared that China, even if not closing the door outright, would restrict the outflow of people. After the Tiananmen massacre on June 4, 1989, all the American airlines except United had canceled their flights to Beijing and...
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READING GUIDE

“Exquisite and resonant. . . . Jin has fashioned a ruminative, capacious, covertly ironic and quietly revealing tale of one family's pursuit of the American Dream.”
Los Angeles Times

The introduction, questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are intended to enhance...
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PRAISE FOR

“Exquisite and resonant...Jin has fashioned a ruminative, capacious, covertly ironic and quietly revealing tale of one family's pursuit of the American Dream.”

Los Angeles Times

 

“Striking. . . . Jin's language has ripened into something extraordinary.”

The Washington Post Book World

 

“[A Free Life] transforms the genre…. The narrative unfolds on such an intimate, domestic scale…that it takes a while to realize that this is also an epic.”

—Robert Pinsky, Slate

 

“A leisurely, generous tale….As vast and unbounded as the brave and overwhelming new world it describes.”

Boston Globe