Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
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What does it mean to be included in the O. Henry Prize Stories? How does an author refine their art? We've given the authors of the winning and recommended stories free rein to share their thoughts on these questions and others, and the result is a rare treat.

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Comments Ha Jin
O. Henry Award-winning Author

This is my first inclusion in The O. Henry Prize Stories. I hope it signifies a good start for the book I have been working on.

(author photo © Jerry Bauer)


Writing Tips

In fact, this is the first story I published set in the United States. I have written a novel set in America, but I want to write a volume of stories about the immigrant experience as well. The project feels like some belated homework I ought to do. The beauty of the short form is that you can afford to abandon a story and write another, whereas you cannot often do that with the novel.

I read an interview, in which a painter mentioned that he lost his parrot and couldn't get over the loss and kept painting the bird. That prompted me to imagine a story based on that germ, "A Composer and His Parakeets."



About the Author

Ha Jin was born in China in 1956. He has published five novels, three collections of short stories, and three volumes of poetry. His most recent novel is A Free Life. He has received the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and other prizes. His short fiction has been included in The Best American Short Stories and many other anthologies, and was chosen for The Pushcart Prize four times. Ha Jin teaches writing and literature at Boston University. He lives outside Boston.


Writer's Desk

  • I am now working on a volume of stories set in an immigrant community.


  • Writer's Desk

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