A Song Everlasting by Ha Jin

Published: 2021 1. First lines. 2. Cover: Penguin Random House 3. Microphone [Public Domain] via Pixabay 4. Newspaper front page [Public Domain] via Pixabay

Chinese singer Yao Tian is on a state-sponsored choir tour to the U.S. Without permission, he stays behind for a few days, and as punishment on his return, he is asked to relinquish his passport. However, he defies the government, and goes back to New York to settle, planning to send for his wife and daughter later. However, he struggles to cope, finding it difficult to maintain his singing career.

Freedom is largely an illusion.

“Written with great control, the novel unfolds as surprisingly as life often does.” (Kirkus) Calling it “uninspired”, Publishers Weekly thinks that “as far as itinerant heroes’ quests for freedom go, this one doesn’t get the heart racing” and that is true, but it is an interesting story told well.


“Mr. Yao Tian, you know our Party’s position on the Tiananmen event, which was a riot, and the organizers of this concert intend to vilify our country. We hope you won’t help them carry out their vicious plan.”

“If a country had betrayed a citizen, isn’t the citizen entitled to betray the country?”

Author: Ha Jin

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