Prize-winning poet and novelist Ha Jin spoke in the McNally Amphitheatre on the Lincoln Center campus on Thursday, Nov. 16, as part of an educational outreach program for the new opera The First Emperor. The opera, for which Ha Jin co-wrote the libretto, will premiere at the Metropolitan Opera on Dec. 21, and was composed by Tan Dun, who won an Oscar for his musical score of the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The event was part of International Education Week, and was co-sponsored by the Department of English, the Literary Studies Program and the Office for International Services. Christopher L. GoGwilt, Ph.D., professor of English and comparative literature, interviewed Ha Jin on his roles as poet, novelist and librettist.
Ha Jin was born in mainland China and grew up in a small rural town in Liaoning Province. He moved from China to the United States in 1985 to earn his doctorate, publishing the first of three books of poetry in 1991, followed by award-winning collections of short stories. His novel, Waiting (Random House, 1999), won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Award. His most recent novel, War Trash (Random House, 2004), won the PEN/Faulkner Award and was a finalist for a Pulitzer prize. He is currently a professor of English at Boston University.