“A Voice from China”

Steven G. Yao

in Foreign Accents

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199730339
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199866540 | DOI:

Series: Global Asias

“A Voice from China”

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Born in Liaoning, China, Ha Jin has gained considerable notoriety in the United States for his works about the Cultural Revolution. This chapter considers through the distinctive lens of his verse the significance, as well as the specific ideological functioning, of Ha Jin’s project as a writer within the context of American liberal multiculturalism. More particularly, it interrogates the structural irony or contradiction that underwrites his entire body of work, which sets forth in English the terms for an explicitly named “Chinese” ethnic and cultural subjectivity. By doing so, the chapter explains the reasons behind his meteoric rise to prominence during the decade of the 1990s. The overarching logic of both his individual development as a writer and his public reputation delineates a trajectory of thoroughgoing assimilation to dominant American values through validating the cornerstone notions of “freedom” and “opportunity” that uphold the rhetorical infrastructure of U.S. cultural and political ideology.

Keywords: realism; transparency; Cultural; Revolution; socialism; assimilationist; China; freedom; opportunity

Chapter.  14067 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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