Tuesday, 6:00 pm EDT July 27, 2021
Online via Zoom
National Book Award-winning author Ha Jin returns to the literary scene with his latest novel, A Song Everlasting, a story of hope in the face of hardship. When famous Chinese singer Yao Tin returns to China after a state-sponsored U.S. tour, he’s asked to release a self-criticism after attending an event sponsored by Taiwan secessionists. He impulsively decides to flee to the U.S. in protest of the threat to his artistic integrity. While his creative life flourishes there, the Chinese government places him on a blacklist, and he must choose between home and creative expression.
Prolific and widely-acclaimed, Ha Jin will join us to celebrate the July 27th launch of A Song Everlasting, his eighth novel, in conversation with novelist Gish Jen (The Resisters and Thank You, Mr. Nixon, forthcoming in January 2022).
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Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 to attend Brandeis University. He is the author of eight novels, four story collections, four volumes of poetry, a biography of Li Bai, and a book of essays. He has received the National Book Award, two PEN/ Faulkner Awards, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. In 2014 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is a professor in the creative writing program at Boston University.
Gish Jen is the author of four previous novels, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction, the latest of which was The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East-West Culture Gap. Her honors include the Lannan Literary Award for fiction and the Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She teaches from time to time in China, and otherwise lives with her husband and two children in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
A Song Everlasting
By Ha Jin
Published by Pantheon
From the universally admired, National Book Award-winning, bestselling author of Waiting—a timely novel that follows a famous Chinese singer severed from his country, as he works to find his way in the United States
At the end of a U.S. tour with his state-supported choir, popular singer Yao Tian takes a private gig in New York to pick up some extra cash for his daughter’s tuition fund, but the consequences of his choice spiral out of control. On his return to China, Tian is informed that the sponsors of the event were supporters of Taiwan’s secession, and that he must deliver a formal self-criticism. When he is asked to forfeit his passport to his employer, Tian impulsively decides instead to return to New York to protest the government’s threat to his artistic integrity.
With the help of his old friend Yabin, Tian’s career begins to flourish in the United States. But he is soon placed on a Chinese government blacklist and thwarted by the state at every turn, and it becomes increasingly clear that he may never return to China unless he denounces the freedoms that have made his new life possible. Tian nevertheless insists on his identity as a performer, refusing to give up his art. Moving, important, and strikingly relevant to our times, A Song Everlasting is a story of hope in the face of hardship from one of our most celebrated authors.