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Waiting (Vintage International) by [Ha Jin]
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Waiting (Vintage International) Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 358 ratings

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Length: 320 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Compassionate, earthy, robust, and wise, Waiting blends provocative allegory with all-too-human comedy. The result touches and reveals, bringing to life a singular world in its spectacular intricacy."        
-- Gish Jen, author of Who's Irish?

"A remarkable love story. Ha Jin's understanding of the human heart and the human condition transcends borders and time. Waiting is an outstanding literary achievement."  
-- Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain

"A deceptively simple tale, written with extraordinary precision and grace. Ha Jin has established himself as one of the great sturdy realists still writing in a postmodern age."        
-- Kirkus Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu." Like a fairy tale, Ha Jin's masterful novel of love and politics begins with a formula--and like a fairy tale, Waiting uses its slight, deceptively simple framework to encompass a wide range of truths about the human heart. Lin Kong is a Chinese army doctor trapped in an arranged marriage that embarrasses and repels him. (Shuyu has country ways, a withered face, and most humiliating of all, bound feet.) Nevertheless, he's content with his tidy military life, at least until he falls in love with Manna, a nurse at his hospital. Regulations forbid an army officer to divorce without his wife's consent--until 18 years have passed, that is, after which he is free to marry again. So, year after year Lin asks his wife for his freedom, and year after year he returns from the provincial courthouse: still married, still unable to consummate his relationship with Manna. Nothing feeds love like obstacles placed in its way--right? But Jin's novel answers the question of what might have happened to Romeo and Juliet had their romance been stretched out for several decades. In the initial confusion of his chaste love affair, Lin longs for the peace and quiet of his "old rut." Then killing time becomes its own kind of rut, and in the end, he is forced to conclude that he "waited eighteen years just for the sake of waiting."

There's a political allegory here, of course, but it grows naturally from these characters' hearts. Neither Lin nor Manna is especially ideological, and the tumultuous events occurring around them go mostly unnoticed. They meet during a forced military march, and have their first tender moment during an opera about a naval battle. (While the audience shouts, "Down with Japanese Imperialism!" the couple holds hands and gazes dreamily into each other's eyes.) When Lin is in Goose Village one summer, a mutual acquaintance rapes Manna; years later, the rapist appears on a TV report titled "To Get Rich Is Glorious," after having made thousands in construction. Jin resists hammering ideological ironies like these home, but totalitarianism's effects on Lin are clear:

Let me tell you what really happened, the voice said. All those years you waited torpidly, like a sleepwalker, pulled and pushed about by others' opinions, by external pressure, by your illusions, by the official rules you internalized. You were misled by your own frustration and passivity, believing that what you were not allowed to have was what your heart was destined to embrace.
Ha Jin himself served in the People's Liberation Army, and in fact left his native country for the U.S. only in 1985. That a non-native speaker can produce English of such translucence and power is truly remarkable--but really, his prose is the least of the miracles here. Improbably, Jin makes an unconsummated 18-year love affair loom as urgent as political terror or war, while history-changing events gain the immediacy of a domestic dilemma. Gracefully phrased, impeccably paced, Waiting is the kind of realist novel you thought was no longer being written. --Mary Park --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
358 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2014
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Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on September 10, 2013
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Top international reviews

Joella
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 6, 2015
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carol hemsley
5.0 out of 5 stars Chinese book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 1, 2015
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4.0 out of 5 stars Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans
Reviewed in Italy on September 14, 2016
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Reviewed in India on April 4, 2018
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4.0 out of 5 stars Print could be better
Reviewed in India on July 25, 2016
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jenny Cee
1.0 out of 5 stars unreadable book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 17, 2014
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1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 2, 2017
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 25, 2013
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