A rich, moving and titillating account of the poet’s life. The Li Po that emerges from this tale is a figure we know so well and yet hardly ... a deeply empathetic portrait of a literary genius whose vicissitudes in life—filled with ambitions, frailties, losses and pains—would pale a Shakespearean drama ... mesmerizing.
In The Banished Immortal, a biography of Li, the novelist Ha Jin narrates the poet’s unusual life with erudition and empathy ... One might easily take The Banished Immortal, his first work of nonfiction, as a departure from his previous work. But a close reading suggests that it is a return to his early themes, and a tribute to the poet he was before making his mark as a novelist ... The Banished Immortal is a biography, but it is also a document in which a rootless writer nods to the past inside him. Writing about Li Bai—his life, his work, and his country—Jin finally returns home.
A typical biography, spanning the life and career of the eighth-century poet, but Ha Jin's masterful style and deep affection for his subject make the book a pleasure to read--especially for those unfamiliar with Li Bai or Chinese poetry in general ... liberally quotes Bai's work, sometimes reproducing complete poems in translation to show the depth of his imagery and style. A number of readers will pick up this book knowing its author but not Li Bai, and Ha Jin makes sure they see Bai's prodigious talent. Newcomers will be swept up in Bai's personal history while fans of his work will enjoy Ha Jin's own take on the man and his influence.