By Ha Jin
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375406539, 320pp.)
Publication Date: September 21, 1999
List Price: $24.00*
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Winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Fiction!
In Waiting, PEN/Hemingway Award-winning author Ha Jin draws on his intimate knowledge of contemporary China to create a novel of unexpected richness and feeling. This is the story of Lin Kong, a man living in two worlds, struggling with the conflicting claims of two utterly different women as he moves through the political minefields of a society designed to regulate his every move and stifle the promptings of his innermost heart.
For more than seventeen years, this devoted and ambitious doctor has been in love with an educated, clever, modern woman, Manna Wu. But back in the traditional world of his home village lives the wife his family chose for him when he was young--a humble and touchingly loyal woman, whom he visits in order to ask, again and again, for a divorce. In a culture in which the ancient ties of tradition and family still hold sway and where adultery discovered by the Party can ruin lives forever, Lin's passionate love is stretched ever more taut by the passing years. Every summer, his compliant wife agrees to a divorce but then backs out. This time, Lin promises, will be different.
Tracing these lives through their summer of decision and beyond, Ha Jin vividly conjures the texture of daily life in a place where the demands of human longing must contend with the weight of centuries of custom. Waiting charms and startles us with its depiction of a China that remains hidden to Western eyes even as it moves us with its piercing vision of the universal
complications of love.
Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 to attend Brandeis University. He is the author of two books of poetry; two collections of stories, Ocean of Words, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award in 1997, and Under the Red Flag, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction in 1996; and In the Pond, a novel. He lives near Atlanta, where he is a professor of English at Emory University.
"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