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A Free Life by Ha Jin
Ha Jin came to the United States to study and felt he could not return to his native China after the events at Tiananmen Square. Even though he learned English only as an adult, he's chosen to write his novels in English, his adopted tongue.
In A Free Life, Nan Wu also comes to the United States to study and stays after the events at Tiananmen Square. His love is poetry, but with a wife and a son, he knows he must find a way to support his family. He eventually arrives in Atlanta where he wants to start his own restaurant. Nan Wu feels a longing for his homeland, as well as for his first love he met before marrying his wife, but he's determined to make a life in the US. He's also determined not to give up on his poetry, which he decides he must write in English. A Free Life has received mostly positive reviews with the Portland Oregonian saying, "The personal is political, as in Jin's other writing, but none of his other novels loves the English language like A Free Life. It is not a lyrical novel, but it is beautifully written, and Nan's Chinese-English dictionary becomes the icon of an outsider's quest to remove the borders from around human personality."