When Ha Jin, then a doctoral student at Brandeis University, witnessed the Chinese Tiananmen Square massacre on television, he decided that he and his young family would never return to their homeland. Making a decision like this, for most, would be challenge enough for a lifetime. But Jin took on another one: He would become a fiction writer. Also daunting for most of us. But Jin wasnt done: He would learn how to write his fiction in English. Were happy to say hes accomplished all three. Twelve years into his career, Jin completed Waiting, which won the 1999 National Book Award and told the tale of a Chinese doctor who returns to his small village once a year to try to divorce his wife, though the judge wont let him do it until theyve been separated for 18 years.
Today Ha Jin will read from his new release, A Free Life, a look at a Chinese man living in America who is a poet concerned about beauty on the inside, and a restaurant owner concerned about bussing tables on the outside. Jin will discuss his books and history (including that ambitious to-do list) as part of the Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series today at 7:30 p.m. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-521-2026 or visit www.inprinthouston.org. Free to $5.
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Mon., Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m., 2009