A Good Fall
Celebrated author, professor tackles the Chinese-American experience| From Alumni Books | By Susan Seligson
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In the video above, Ha Jin (GRS'94) reads "A Composer and His Parakeets," a story from his new collection. Watch a longer reading from A Good Fall. Photo by Vernon Doucette.
The lastest from National Book Award winner and BU professor Ha Jin is a collection of twelve short stories unfolding in and around Queens, New York City’s most richly diverse borough. This setting acts as the lens through which the reader follows a group of Chinese-Americans — old, young, ambitious, defeated — as they straddle cultures and try to grab and hold onto a morsel of happiness. From the monk who escapes deportation in a battery-powered airport cart to the widow who must choose between her younger lover (who is also her daughter’s violin teacher) and her daughter, Jin’s characters are hobbled by self-doubt. Yet despite their bouts of anger and spite, they are all good at heart.
A Good Fall (Pantheon)
Jin’s stories offer more than quirky characters and pitch-perfect dialogue — they are also quite funny. One simply begins, “Our grandchildren hate us.” In “The Bane of the Internet,” the narrator explains that lending money to her status-obsessed sister in China would amount to “hitting a dog with a meatball — nothing would come back.” A lonely man’s reluctant love affair with his itinerant girlfriend’s bird in “A Composer and His Parakeets” is as silly and playful as it is heartbreaking. Jin’s tender exasperation with his culture, as well as his love of two languages, sings out of every page.