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Author Ha Jin to speak at Novel Experience convocation

Thursday, September 15, 2005

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Internationally acclaimed author Ha Jin will be on the Wofford College campus for two events on Thursday, Sept. 22 – The Novel Experience 11 a.m. convocation and a 7:30 p.m. reading.

Ha Jin’s award-winning novel “Waiting” was the selection assigned to first-year Wofford students for The Novel Experience, an innovative program that brings the author of the assigned book to campus to interact with students. This is the fourth year for the program. Previous authors have been Charles Johnson (“Middle Passages”), Geraldine Brooks (“Year of Wonders”) and Orson Scott Card (“Ender’s Game”).

All incoming freshmen read “Waiting” over the summer, and joined their Humanities Sections as part of orientation at local restaurants to discuss the book. Each student wrote an essay concerning the novel, and one essay from each section was selected for publication in a book to be distributed at Thursday’s convocation.

Ha Jin’s appearances at Wofford are free and open to the public. The convocation will be at 11 a.m. in Benjamin Johnson Arena. The reading will be from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the McMillan Theater in the Raines Student Center.

“Waiting,” the story of an army doctor in Communist China in the late 1960s, won Ha Jin a PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Award; it was published in 1999. His 2004 novel “War Trash,” about a Chinese soldier taken prisoner during the Korean War, earned him an unprecedented second PEN/Faulkner prize this year.

From the age of 14 until he was 20, Ha Jin served in the People’s Liberation Army in China. Upon release, he taught himself English working the night shift as a railroad telegrapher, and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Chinese universities. In 1985, he moved to the United States to pursue graduate work at Brandeis University. He decided to remain in the U.S. after the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989. His first two books of fiction, “Ocean of Words” (1996) and “Under the Red Flag” (1997), came on the heels of his poetry collections “Between Silences” (1990) and “Facing Shadows” (1996). “Ocean of Words” received the PEN/Hemingway award. In 1988, he published a novella, “In the Pond.”

Ha Jin is a professor of English at Boston University.