Jin Speaks

The Washington Post‘s Marcia Davis catches up with Ha Jin, who recently won the PEN/Faulkner award for his novel War Trash.

He has come to accept the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for his work “War Trash,” a novel about a Chinese Army veteran of the Korean War who ends up in a U.S. prisoner-of-war camp.

Jin is honored, of course, pleased that others find his work deserving. But he is not fooled either, not caught up in the flash and glitter of the literati life or any idea that winning awards — and he’s captured quite a few in the relatively short time he’s been in the United States — means more than a moment of recognition. That is not his style.

“To become a winner is by luck,” he says in his soft-spoken and heavily accented English. “Among the finalists, many of them are winners of other awards. That shows [winning] depends on so many things, including the judges’ tastes. But a book has to be good to become a finalist.”

It’s simultaneously refreshing and sobering to hear Ha Jin say that he’s “still struggling” and that he “could fail at any moment.” Read on.

Link via Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.