Language, Otherness, and Acculturation among Chinese Immigrants in the Short Stories of Ha Jin by Louis J. Parascandola and Rajul Punjabi Although Chinese-born author Ha Jin migrated to the United States in 1985, until he published the novel A Free Life (2007) and the short story collection A Good Fall (2009), none of his work was set in his adopted homeland despite the fact all of his writing was done in English. These two American-based works reflect the financial difficulties, troubled relationships, problems with language and other challenges of acculturation that many new immigrants, or the more inclusive “migrants” as Jin prefers to call such people, face (Jin Migrant ix). This essay will discuss the sometimes turbulent but always fluid process of acculturation as reflected in three of his short stories – “An English Professor,” “A Pension Plan,” and “Temporary Love” – from A Good Fall. Ha Jin's depiction of the Chinese immigrants of Flushing in these stories provides a window into the successes and struggles of this diverse, complex, but relatively little explored community. They show the many “different kinds of American Dreams” that Ha Jin feels are sometimes still possible for Chinese immigrants, including himself, to attain (Varsava 21). To understand Ha Jin's stories, it is necessary to provide some context for the Flushing, Queens, Chinese community which is the setting for the works. In 1645 Flushing was first settled by British colonists. It was
"The Problems of Acculturation: Flushing, Queens, in the Short Stories of Ha Jin"
Noted author Ha Jin is often thought of as a Chinese author despite the fact that all of his writing has been written in English. Two of his later works, A Free Life (2007) and A Good Fall (2009) are set among the Chinese community in Flushing, Queens. This essay examines three short stories "An English Professor," "A Pension Plan," and "Temporary Love" from A Good Fall. In these works, Jin discusses the problems of acculturation these immigrants face, including learning English, finding employment, and dealing with forced separation. The stories depict the "treacherous territory" the immigrants, as well as the author himself at times, traverse as they dwell "between two languages, two cultures, two literatures, two countries."
Parascandola, Louis J. and Punjabi, Rajul
"Language, Immigration and Acculturation in the Short Stories of Ha Jin,"
Asian American Literature: Discourses & Pedagogies: Vol. 8, Article 6.
Available at: https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/aaldp/vol8/iss1/6