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Ha Jin is deliberately writing a book targeted at a Western audience, designed to provide non-threatening images of China to the Western reader who can take comfort in the stamp of "authenticity" conferred by Ha Jin's Chinese background. The first few chapters give it away: Shuyu, the protagonist's wife and a farmer's daughter born in , has bound feet.

This would have been very very rare by that time especially for a peasant woman. In fact, foot binding does not make an appearance at all in her book. Is there some narrative use made of Shuyu's bound feet that might justify this narrative choice? No, none whatsoever. While it is used as an "explanation" for why Lin Kong is embarrassed by her, there are so many other reasons given for why he is not happy with her that this additional one makes no difference to the novel's dramatic arc. Its presence, however, gives the novel that exotic frisson: "Oh, those barbarous Chinese, torturing their women that way.

Even if I were not totally turned-off by this Uncle Tong-ism, the leaden writing and one-dimensional characters would sink this book.

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After all, what makes Lin Kong "realise" the folly of infidelity? The fact that Shuyu is more than willing to abase herself to him and to slave for him to give him peace and quiet, in contrast to his final fate of being a father faced with the demands of a new wife and two baby sons.

Oh boo hoo, he has to wash diapers. View all 3 comments. Jan 04, Ernest rated it did not like it.

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The onslaught of awards and critical acclaim this book has garnered including the biggie, The National Book Award of epitomizes the most lamentable trend in such current practices: pandering political correctness. Despite featuring wooden dialogue spoken by boring characters I could care less about and descriptions that rival phone book listings in their vividness, Waiting DOES conform to pre-existing, fetishized Western notions of Chinese culture.

Thus, delighted progressive probably whi The onslaught of awards and critical acclaim this book has garnered including the biggie, The National Book Award of epitomizes the most lamentable trend in such current practices: pandering political correctness. Thus, delighted progressive probably white, perhaps guilt-ridden tastemakers were all too eager to reward such an "exotic" tale of unrequited love even though the surface originality of an actual Chinese romance! To its supporters, the spare minimalism of the writing matches generalized perceptions of the Asian aesthetic forging a sort of modern, Eastern Hemingway in which his level of economical depth and insight is matched or, dare I say, even exceeded.

And while it is true that sometimes "less is more" as with Hemingway or, say, William Carlos Williams , sometimes "less is simply less". Waiting is, quite simply, hackneyed drivel that underscores the immutable fact that whether it resides in the sewers of New York City or the fields of a rural Chinese village, crap is still crap.

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View all 5 comments. Aug 26, Rebbie rated it really liked it Shelves: Damn you for making me cry over what you did to Shuyu. And yet I still worry over you, even though you're just a fictional character in a book. Do you even know what happiness is, Lin? How about what it costs and what it's NOT supposed to cost? I wasn't expecting the ending to stab my heart the way it did. Just when you think you know where a book is heading May 30, Cecily rated it it was ok Shelves: china-japan-asia. Best summed up by Book Wyrm: "it was like trying to listen to an account of an orgy told by the world's most boring eunuch" See his review here.

View all 12 comments. Jun 04, Sara rated it really liked it Shelves: asia. I am frequently surprised by books that I think will be about one thing and turn out to be about another.

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This story is set in Communist China, and what I expected was a dissection of that time in history. That was an element, but this book is truly about a man, Lin Kong, who cannot make up his mind how to live his life, and as a result finds himself always waiting for his life to begin. There is happiness and possibility all around him, but he is never able to grasp any of 3. There is happiness and possibility all around him, but he is never able to grasp any of it.

His wife, to whom he has become attached through an arranged marriage, is a peasant woman. She seems too simple, countrified and uneducated for his tastes and position, but his visits home prove to us that he might have been happy in her company had he allowed himself to be. He spurns her company and misses the entire life of his daughter, who might have been a source of joy for his life but was not. His mistress, if you can truly call her that, is a well-educated woman with whom he works, but he can never commit himself to her seriously enough to divorce his wife and begin a true life with her.

The result is that all three of these people are waiting, always waiting, for his decision, for him to act, for life to begin. The story is written in a clipped style that suggests the thoughts and confusion of Lin Kong. I found it appropriate for this story, although it is bleak and almost depressing at times. I felt varying emotional reactions to each of these three people at different times in the story, for like all human beings, they are complex and not always likable.

Old worlds do not give way to new worlds without catching some people in the middle. If nothing else, this book reminds us that our lives are limited things--best to live them while you can. Nov 25, Connie G rated it really liked it Shelves: china , fiction. But Lin had gone to school to become a doctor and was now living in an urban environment. He wanted to marry Manna, a nurse who was more sophisticated and modern. Shuyu refuses to give him a divorce, and the Communist Party rules say there has to be 18 years of marit "Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.

Shuyu refuses to give him a divorce, and the Communist Party rules say there has to be 18 years of marital separation before Lin can obtain the divorce without the consent of Shuyu. Lin and Manna wait In the s there could be serious political consequences if they are alone together outside the hospital grounds, and Lin is a cautious person. During the two decades that elapse in "Waiting", the political and social climate slowly changes as the three main characters age.

follow url The book is mainly a character study of Lin and Manna. How much of their history together was influenced by love, and how much by circumstances? Has Lin truly loved anyone with a deep passion, or is he always the recipient of love? Have their lives passed them by because they are always living for the future and not enjoying the present?

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Oct 05, stephanie rated it it was amazing. View all 4 comments. From the start I could not put this book down. The story intrigued me and I wanted to know the story behind it all. I can not understand that the rating of this book is low. The story is entertaining and reads fast. It also shows a lot of Chinese culture and how people deal with that. The life choices we make, the waiting we do in life.. Aug 18, Lorraine rated it really liked it Shelves: book-discussion. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I enjoyed my second reading of this book by Ha Jin much more than the first.

Perhaps it was timing or my still-maturing literary consciousness, but for me, the book has ripened significantly in the 7 or 8 years since my first perusal. While I cannot say that I admire the characters of Lin or Manna any more than I originally did, Shuyu stood out to me as a shining example of "blooming where you're planted".

She managed to be happy, productive and capable of growth and forgiveness, in the difficul I enjoyed my second reading of this book by Ha Jin much more than the first. She managed to be happy, productive and capable of growth and forgiveness, in the difficulties of marriage to an absent, ungrateful husband, whose home she ran, child she raised, parents she cared for as they aged and died, farm she maintained.

Ultimately, after many years of trying to divorce Shuyu, Lin succeeds and then sells the farm to pay for his second marriage, and we see her transplanted to the big city and thriving there, as well. Meanwhile, Lin and Manna's lives seem to stall; stuck forever in waiting mode, they seem to have lost the ability to love or grow or give.

A good read! Aug 01, Emily rated it it was ok Shelves: fiction. I couldn't decide if I wanted to give this book one or two stars, but ultimately decided to go with two because it kept my attention and was a fast read. That being said however, I hated almost everything about this book, particularly the main characters. There were times when I thought the strength of my burning hatred for the main character would be enough to ignite the book into flames. But if you like books about weak, self absorbed, indecisive, and passionless characters who are not even re I couldn't decide if I wanted to give this book one or two stars, but ultimately decided to go with two because it kept my attention and was a fast read.

But if you like books about weak, self absorbed, indecisive, and passionless characters who are not even remotely sympathetic, then this book's for you.

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