Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What do Ha Jin’s novels and stories reveal about the impact of Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party on the common people of China?

In what ways does Ha Jin use irony to enhance readers’ understanding of the major characters in Waiting?

How does Ha Jin’s simple, reportorial style of story telling in War Trash affect readers’ perceptions both of Yu Yuan and of the international conflict in which he is a pawn?

Although Ha Jin’s works are set in Communist China, in what ways are the struggles of characters such as Lin Kong, Manna Wu, Shuyu, or Yu Yuan indicative of those faced by individuals in other countries and cultures?

Ha Jin has said that living in the United States has made him more aware of concepts such as “freedom” and “identity.” In what ways do his works reveal something about the conflicts between these concepts and Chinese culture?


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Basney, Lionel. “Keeping Company.” The Georgia Review 50 (Fall, 1996): 601-608. Discusses how the issue of community is addressed in Ocean of Words, as well as in two other books, all of which are reviewed.

Garner, Dwight. “Ha Jin’s Cultural Revolution.” The New York Times Magazine, February 6, 2000, pp. 38, 40-41. Profile of Jin covers how he became interested in literature and discusses his books, including Waiting and Between Silences.

Gilbert, Roger. Review of Between Silences, by Ha Jin. Partisan Review 61 (Winter, 1994): 180-186. States that this collection provides a frighteningly exact account of the Cultural Revolution in China, told from the point of view of a young soldier.

“Ha Jin.” Writer 114, no. 1 (January, 2001): 66. Focuses on Jin’s writing habits, his reasons for writing, his style, and his advice to other writers.

Twitchell-Waas, Jeffrey. Review of Wreckage, by Ha Jin. World Literature Today: A Literary Quarterly of the University of Oklahoma 76, no. 1 (Winter, 2002): 109-110. A review of the collection of poems Wreckage.

Zhang, Hang. “Bilingual Creativity in Chinese English: Ha Jin’s In the Pond.” World Englishes 21, no. 2 (July, 2002): 305-315. This paper examines the novella In the Pond, in which the author’s use of English is “nativized” to the Chinese context in order to recast the cultural meanings of the language. Jin’s skillful use of English successfully transcreated his native Chinese experience to form an indiginized narrative style.