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Skidmore College

Ha Jin to present Steloff Lecture Feb. 9

February 4, 2012

Award-winning author Ha Jin will deliver the Steloff Lecture at Skidmore College at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9. Titled "Personal Story, Historical Event," the talk will be preceded by the awarding of an honorary Doctor of Letters degree to Ha Jin.

Free and open to the public, the Steloff Lecture will be in Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall.

Born in China in 1956, Xuefei Jin (Ha Jin is his pen name) was a teenager when China entered the Cultural Revolution. He became a member of the People's Liberation Army at the age of 14. His novel Waiting, which won the National Book Award in 1999 and the PEN/Faulkner prize in 2000, was based on his experiences during his five-year service in the Red Army. He was awarded the PEN/Faulkner award again in 2005 for War Trash.

His other books include A Free Life (2007); The Writer as Migrant (2008), a collection of lectures; A Good Fall (2009), a collection of short stories; and Nanjing Requiem (2011). The last, a novel based on the invasion of Nanjing, China, by Japanese troops in December 1937, is " a book that renders a subtle and powerful vision of one of the 20th century's most monstrous interludes," writes Isabelle Hilton in The New York Times Book Review.

Ha Jin is a graduate of the Boston University Creative Writing Program and currently a professor at the university.

In addition to the National Book Award, Ha Jin received the Pen/Hemingway Award for his first collection of short stories, Ocean of Words (1996), and the Flannery O'Connor prize for his second, Under the Red Flag (1997). In 2005 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Skidmore's Frances Steloff Lecture is a highlight of the academic calendar, bringing to the campus such authors as Nobel Prize winners Mario Vargas Llosa, Nadine Gordimer, Seamus Heaney, J.M. Coetzee, and Saul Bellow, as well as other major writers like Katherine Anne Porter, Arthur Miller, Margaret Atwood, Louise Gluck, Don DeLillo, John Banville, and Joyce Carol Oates. The Steloff Lecture series was established in 1967 at Skidmore by Frances Steloff, a native of Saratoga Springs, founder of the Gotham Book Mart in New York City, and well-known patron of writers. She endowed the lecture series as a way to bring outstanding literary and artistic talent to the college.

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