From Publishers Weekly
From National Book Award–winner Jin (Waiting
) comes a new collection that focuses on Flushing, one of New York City's largest Chinese immigrant communities. With startling clarity, Jin explores the challenges, loneliness and uplift associated with discovering one's place in America. Many different generational perspectives are laid out, from the young male sweatshop-worker narrator of The House Behind a Weeping Cherry, who lives in the same rooming-house as three prostitutes, to the grandfather of Children as Enemies, who disapproves of his grandchildren's desires to Americanize their names. Anxiety and distrust plague many of Jin's characters, and while the desire for love and companionship is strong, economic concerns tend to outweigh all others. In Temporary Love, Jin explores the inevitable complications of becoming a wartime couple or men and women who, unable to bring their spouses to America, cohabit... to comfort each other and also to reduce living expenses. With piercing insight, Jin paints a vast, fascinating portrait of a neighborhood and a people in flux. (Dec.)
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*Starred Review* In The Bridegroom (2000), his last collection of short stories, Ha Jin, a National Book Award winner, captures the paradoxes of life under China’s Communist regime. In his new stories, sharply etched works remarkable for the contrast between their directness of expression and complexity of feelings, he creates a mirror-image set of tales about a Chinese immigrant community in Flushing, New York. Ha Jin’s ear and eye for Chinese American life are acute, as is his sense of how one life can encompass a full spectrum of irony, desperation, and magic. The advent of e-mail enables a sister in China to blackmail her sister in America. A struggling composer develops a remarkable rapport with his absent lover’s parakeet. Marriages come under duress, one due to the almost surreal insensitivity of a visiting mother, the other to the husband’s suspicions about his wife and the strange truth they reveal. A classic story about grandparents from the old country appalled by their Americanized grandchildren is balanced by the startling title story, in which a young kung fu master and monk achieves an unforeseen form of enlightenment. The quest for freedom yields surprising and resonant complications in Ha Jin’s sorrowful, funny, and bittersweet stories. --Donna Seaman