- File Size: 1195 KB
- Print Length: 320 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (March 20, 2001)
- Publication Date: March 20, 2001
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000QCSAU4
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,543 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Waiting (Vintage International) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 320 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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-- 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
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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Some reviewers commented on the failure of this story to acknowledge the Cultural Revolution (which the timeframe of the novel spans) by having it throw a larger shadow over the events of the novel. In part this comment is probably reflective of the portion of readership that always wants to believe that “big” political events in a country affect every single person in a major way, when the reality is that many people just aren’t in the line of fire. In any case, that would have been a completely different story, and the book would not have been what it is. It would not have served the story, and indeed would have trivialized it. That aspect aside, I thought it wove plenty of Chinese cultural aspects into its story—indeed, that is a large part of what it is about. It is not a stretch to believe that some of those hundreds of millions present in China at that time continued to live their ordinary lives.
Lin Kong, the main character, who is not what anyone would call resolute, finds himself even further constrained by both the mores of the more traditional rural countryside and by the more modern and communist city (and PLA) set of expectations. Perhaps these reviewers did not like the way in which these dilemmas were non-judgmentally presented. In reality, one hallmark of good writing is to show something rather than just telling it or lecturing the reader.
Lin Kong and Manna Wu (his girlfriend) are presented as complex characters, and are neither all good nor all bad. Lin Kong is basically a good man, yet eventually reaches a point where his action (or even his non-action) is going to hurt someone regardless of what he chooses. He starts down this road because while he rejects the life his filial duties force on him, he is irresolute about the way in which he pursues changing it.
For those with the patience for slow character development and a deliberate pacing of the plot, this is an excellent tale that easily transports the reader into the Chinese society of its time.
A hard story to read, how interesting can it be to read about a character that is put off by official sanctions and an ineffectual nature from marring his beloved for 18 years?
Best to remind ones self that Waiting won both the National Book Award in 1999 and the 2000 PEN/ Faulkner Award.
Ha Jin takes us to China during the troublesome years of the Mao era and into the early Deng Xiaoping period to see the stressful existence of an Army doctor contorted by his environment constraints and his own inadequacies, and yet by stories end, leaves the reader with enough to linger long over the working of the human condition. Being a Good Man is sometimes not enough.
Awards well earned by an author who found his own reasons not to return to China following the events of June 1989.
The story was written while a professor of English at Emory University; he formally taught Literature at Boston University.
One can appreciate how author Ha Jin was deftly able to present sympathetic characters here. Despite his committing a despicable act in divorcing a good wife, we can still feel badly about Lin Kong's plight. Ultimately the novel is about desire and waiting for its fulfillment. Lin Kong desires a woman who thrills him mentally and sexually. Manna Wu desires a husband who can provide her with a family. Shuyu desires to achieve family unity (and honor) by being an obedient wife. Even China desires to shed itself of its past and move forward into the 20th century. They all wait, but eventually the change they have been waiting for happens. But does reality match up with fantasy?
Top international reviews
The novel provides simple but effective insights in the thoughts and the emotions of the main characters.
Recommended to those interested in the complexity of human relationships and in the meaning of life.
strength of someone else's recommendation. I big mistake buying books according to another person's preference