A Good Fall (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Ha Jin’s fourth story collection, A Good Fall, consists of twelve short stories, each focusing on the experiences of Chinese American immigrants working hard to improve their lives in a country whose ways are foreign to them. The stories are equally divided between first- and third-person narration, and the viewpoint characters, primarily male but occasionally female, range from young twenty-somethings to elderly grandparents. Jin’s use of Flushing, New York, as a consistent locale for the stories is extremely effective; he paints a broad yet in-depth portrait of the Chinese American immigrant experience by featuring garment industry laborers, restaurant workers, and even prostitutes alongside the more prosperous businesspeople and academics with whom they share both a past and a present geographic identity.
As with Jin’s previous novels and story collections, the stories in A Good Fall resonate in large part because they successfully distill common experience into short, tightly woven narratives. Specifically, the collection focuses on the cultural and interpersonal conflicts encountered by those who have traded a culture that is largely based on familial responsibility for one that places greater value on personal independence. As such, a common source of conflict in these stories is that of age or generational differences.
In “Choice,” for instance, Dave Hong is hired by Eileen Min, a forty-year-old Chinese...
(The entire section is 1786 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2010)
Booklist 106, no. 6 (November 15, 2009): 20.
Kirkus Reviews 77, no. 19 (October 1, 2009): 1038.
Library Journal 134, no. 17 (October 15, 2009): 72.
Publishers Weekly 256, no. 38 (September 21, 2009): 35-36.
New York 42, no. 41 (December 7, 2009): 76-77.
The Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2009, p. W7.
(The entire section is 28 words.)