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Extended Audio Sample A Free Life, by Ha Jin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,516 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ha Jin Narrator: Jaeson Ma Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Meet the Wu family—father Nan, mother Pingping, and son Taotao. They are arranging to fully sever ties with China in the aftermath of the 1989 massacre at Tiananmen Square, and to begin a new, free life in the United States. At first, their future seems well-assured. But after the fallout from Tiananmen, Nan’s disillusionment turns him toward his first love, poetry. Leaving his studies, he takes on a variety of menial jobs as Pingping works for a wealthy widow as a cook and housekeeper. As Pingping and Taotao slowly adjust to American life, Nan still feels a strange attachment to his homeland, though he violently disagrees with Communist policy. But severing all ties—including his love for a woman who rejected him in his youth—proves to be more difficult than he could have ever imagined.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Exquisite and resonant…Jin has fashioned a ruminative, capacious, covertly ironic and quietly revealing tale of one family’s pursuit of the American Dream.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Striking…Jin’s language has ripened into something extraordinary.”

    The Washington Post

  • “A leisurely, generous tale…As vast and unbounded as the brave and overwhelming new world it describes.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Ha Jin writes of sacrifice, isolation, and valor with uncommon perception…Capacious, pointillistic, empathic, and tender, Ha Jin’s tale of one immigrant family’s odyssey in America affirms humankind’s essential mission, to honor life.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • A Free Life offers the greatest reward to those who read with patience and in quiet contemplation, absorbing the author’s passion for language.”

    Bookmarks Magazine

  • One of the 2007 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Sylvia | 2/13/2014

    " I really enjoyed how this book focused on the everyday life of an immigrant coming to the states to make a life. Whereas a lot of Jin's books are pretty heady, it was interesting to watch him slow down an take the steps of building a life one by one. I think having a personal connection to the immigrant experience makes this book more interesting as well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tama | 1/28/2014

    " Fillial devotion, desire, and the minutae of life... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Annie | 1/26/2014

    " This novel was a fascinating look at the immigration/assimilation experience from the perspective of a Chinese family. While I enjoyed the glimpse into another life, the story was somewhat dreary. The fact that I was reading it on a damp, windy day at the beach probably didn't do anything to make it less dreary. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Rhonda | 1/16/2014

    " I love Ha Jin's books. Not only are they well written, with compelling, fully realized characters - I also learn a great deal about Chinese history, culture, and the immigrant experience. I listened to this book on CD. Overall the reader did an accomplished job of voicing a large number of disparate characters. "

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About the Narrator

Jaeson Ma is the son of two immigrant parents from China. A classically trained, New York-based theater actor who has appeared on Broadway, Off Broadway, and in numerous regional theaters, he has done extensive work in voice-over, specializing in Asian accents. He has provided voices for Vietnamese, Thai, and Japanese subjects for such shows as ABC News, Primetime Live, and 20/20.