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Ha Jin is known by his legal name, Xuefei, to friends and colleagues. In contrast to the dark tenor of discontent that distinguishes his fiction, he is a genial man, at home in his own skin.
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He is almost ebullient as he gives a tour of his suburban house in Foxboro, Massachusetts, explaining that his wife urged him to buy the place because it borders a state forest preserve. For her, that is important. His study is set off from the rest of the house. There is a chair and a stool. A single window looks out onto the yard. Jin was born in in Liaoning Province in northeast China, but he moved around as a young boy whenever his father, an officer in the Red Army, was posted to a new province.
Jin was ten when Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution, which shuttered schools across the country and enlisted Chinese youth in a campaign to eradicate intellectual diversity from the revolutionary landscape. Jin was less fazed: the experience of repression seems only to have made him hardier.
Jin came to the United States in , on a student visa, to study American literature at Brandeis University.
After a year and a half, his wife Bian joined him in America, working various jobs and teaching herself English by watching soap operas. We met in his small office four times for several hours each day, always in the afternoon. Not once did Jin reach for a bottle of water or seem to desire refreshment of any kind. The newlyweds are wrapping up their honeymoon after two weeks.
Suddenly, a police officer throws tea at their feet. He is arrested for sabotage, though Mr. Chiu knows the arrest has no meaning; it is a trumped-up charge created by the police because they despise the fact he is a member of the Communist party and is a professor at Harbin University.follow link
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This is the wrong decision: she should have sent a government official, preferably someone in the security section. Private litigators such as Fenjin hold no real power in this world. Fenjin, like Mr. Chiu, goes through several humiliations and tortures. The unjust charge makes Mr.
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Chiu seek revenge. The provincial police force the men to sign papers admitting that they are dangers to the state. Publically disgraced, Mr.