The National Book Award-winning writer returns with the story of Yao Tian, a Chinese singer who finds himself stuck in New York after traveling to perform a gig there he later learns has been linked to Taiwan's secession movement, incurring the Chinese government's wrath and revocation of his passport. Tian tries and tries to return home, all the while eking out an existence in the United States.
Ha Jin...writes novels defined by profound thoughtfulness and quiet, unshowy grace. His unadorned prose; cool, hypnotic style; and nuanced, compassionate portraits of characters seeking freedom and fulfillment while running up against bureaucratic, political, and personal obstacles have won him a deservedly admiring readership. His latest novel, A Song Everlasting marshals many of these winning features in the service of a deeply moving portrait of an artist as an immigrant in a new land ... a little long—some details seem extraneous or distracting and there are unnecessary repetitions—but by novel’s end, we are deeply bonded to its protagonist, who emerges from one setback, trauma, and blow after another with his dignity, idealism, and essential goodness intact. The quiet heroism of his life, his commitment to growth and art, his emergence into the experience of ordinary contentment are impressive and touching.
... scrupulously narrated and deeply enmeshing ... Ha Jin’s intimately precise, questioning, and quietly dramatic portrait of a devoted, ever-evolving artist committed to songs that are 'ecstatic and mysterious and solitary' has far-reaching and profound resonance.
... another quiet, more passive-than-not antihero caught between China and the U.S ... Jin's narrative here isn't his strongest—prolonged over hundreds of pages, Tian's meandering, passive acceptance, especially, grows cumbersome. For Jin's most devoted readers, however, his signature ability to engage and expand his characters through acute, forthright observations will not disappoint. Once again, Jin provides a meaningful everyman tale beyond borders and cultures.