Introducing the Wu family—father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao. We meet them as they arrange to fully sever ties with China in the aftermath of the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square, and to begin a new, free life in the United States. At first, their future seems well-assured. Nan's graduate work in political science at Brandeis University ensures him a teaching position. But after the fallout from Tiananmen, his disillusionment turns him toward his first love, poetry. Leaving his studies, he takes on a variety of menial jobs as Pingping works for a wealthy widow as a cook and housekeeper. As Nan struggles to adapt to a new language and culture, his love of poetry and literature sustains him through difficult, lean years. As Pingping and Taotao slowly adjust to American life, Nan still feels a strange attachment to his homeland, though he violently disagrees with Communist policy. But severing all ties—including his love for a woman who rejected him in his youth—proves to be more difficult than he could have ever imagined.
About the Author
Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 to attend Brandeis University. He is the author of two books of poetry; two collections of stories, Ocean of Words, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award in 1997, and Under the Red Flag, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction in 1996; and In the Pond, a novel. He lives near Atlanta, where he is a professor at Emory University.