Xuefei Jin, who writes under the name of Ha Jin, was born on February 21, 1956, in Liaoning, China, into a privileged “military family.” His father, Danlin Jin, was an army officer, and his mother, Yuanfen Zhao, a factory worker. Growing up during a period of extreme political upheaval in China's modern history known as the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), Ha Jin joined the Chinese Army when he was fourteen and served six years, first stationed on the Sino-Soviet border and later trained as a telegraph operator. When higher education was formally restored in 1977, Ha Jin became a member of the first class to be admitted to a university. After graduating from Heilongjiang University with a B.A. in English in 1981, he went on to Shandong University for his M.A. in English, writing a thesis on Robert Penn Warren. He married Lisha Bian in 1982. His life took a drastic turn in 1985 when he came to the United States for further education, earning a Ph.D. in English from Brandeis University in 1992 with a dissertation entitled, “The Universalization in Modern English and American Poetry: With Particular Reference to China.” He became an assistant professor of English at Emory University in 1993.
Even before receiving his doctorate, Ha Jin had published a book of poetry, Between Silences, in 1990, marking the beginning of a prolific and distinguished career. In just over a decade, he has published two more collections of poetry, three books of short stories, and two novels, which won numerous awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award, the PEN/ Faulkner Award, the National Book Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2000, he resigned as Young J. Allen Professor of English and Creative Writing from Emory to join the Creative Writing Program at Boston Univer-