National Book Award, Fiction, 1999This is the story of Lin Kong, a man 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 17 years, this devoted and ambitious doctor has been in love with a 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 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 demand 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.
©2000 Ha Jin; (P)2004 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Ha Jin's book could hardly be less theatrical, yet we're immediately engaged by its narrative structure, by its wry humor and by the subtle, startling shifts it produces in our understanding of the characters and their situation." (The New York Times Book Review)
"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)
It was terribly boring. I couldn't root for any of the characters.
It was ok. Whiney at times but so were the characters. Strange end to all of the chapters.
I'm trying to wean myself and learn to function without earbuds for more than ten minutes at a time. It hasn't been easy. I lose balance...
Let's just say, I appreciate the thought, but as far as mysteries and believability go - not so much. Did it make the time pass, sure. Did it pass well because I was enraptured in the tale, not so much. And i knew how it would end to boot. Could have been worse i guess.
The reader's attempts to speak with women's voices was annoying and just sounded weird. The reader should just read the lines with the emphasis needed, that's all.
It was cliche and old-fashioned...
He did a very good job, but I would just not have him try to make the women's voices. It did not work and was annoying.
I was a high school history teacher and a physician assistant-retired.
Man marries simple, provincial girl, falls in love with colleague, cannot get a divorce for 18 years because of army rules, waits and waits. However, not much of interest happens during or after the wait.
The only interesting aspect of this story is that it takes place in China from Chairman Mao to capitalism, but sheds little light on the social undercurrents that made the change possible.
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