Book - 1999
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Winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Fiction! InWaiting, 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.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, 1999.
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780375406539
Branch Call Number: FIC Jin 3578au 1
Characteristics: 308 p.


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Apr 03, 2019

I don't know what book my fellow commentators read but the one I read was pathetic in so many ways. I found the use of language to be awkward, not very interesting, sophomoric. Characters who I could not empathize with, the whole set-up of the control of divorce by the party line, as plot, boring, and the stultifying atmosphere bleak and unpleasant. I thought at first that it was interesting to see how life was lived under communist China's regime, but after awhile, the story just bogged down in the tawdry details of a sad situation which would only drag on. I can't believe how this book was lauded and awarded. I'm still WAITING for a better book!!!

Feb 20, 2019

An interesting "love story". One that could only be written by an 'older man'. Ha! Also interesting - a Chinese writer that only writes in English. It gives good insight to living in China during the Cultural Revolution. Very tightly constructed - and as a result, a quick read. Even after finishing the book, though, I am still thinking about the characters. Always a good sign. :-)

RogerDeBlanck Jun 30, 2018

Taking place in China, Waiting examines one man’s dilemma to escape his arranged marriage of nearly twenty years by divorcing his wife. Lin Kong is a successful and respected physician in the Chinese People’s Army. He has been a loyal servant of his family and country, but his passions belong to Manna Wu, a nurse at the hospital where Lin practices at. The novel charts Lin’s eighteen years of frustration to divorce his wife, while at the same time the local government and hospital administration keep a watchful eye on him. They would prefer he adhere to a restrictive civil code of exemplary moral conduct. Lin’s plight illuminates the predicament of an individual trying to pursue happiness under the monitoring glare of China’s Communist Republic. This novel is one of Ha Jin's best works.

Oct 28, 2017

This is a fun fiction to read with a dash of reality mixed in. I particularly enjoy the description of the brother-in-law who is such an antagonist and I can name a few people I know in my life that has such a diabolical mind. I want to laugh or cry about some of the twist in the story line.
At the end of the novel, I want to kick Dr. Kong in the ass. How can someone be so passive and conservative that they ruin their own life? What's the point of living? Idealize romanticism vs practical reality which will win out? Which is better? At the end of the novel he kind of get what he deserved. I sense the author doesn't care much for the straight and narrow. I personally tend to stay away from such types because its kind of aggravating to witness their choices.

BostonPL_LauraB Mar 02, 2016

I was a little worried that the writing in this was going to be like other major award winners - over fanciful and pretentious - but thankfully, it wasn't. This novel wasn't bad, and I quite like the writing, but unfortunately the plot (of which there was not much of) was slow and boring. When I arrived at the end of the book, I found that I couldn't really give any reasons to read this book, and so I wouldn't immediately recommend this novel. Because although it wasn't bad, it just wasn't particularly memorable either. This is pretty firmly in the "meh" category for me. However, if you already have the intention of wanting to read this novel, I wouldn't tell you not to read it either. I don't know if any of that make sense, but I think it pretty much describes a 3/5 star book for me.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 16, 2014

In this winner of the National Book Award, Ha Jin portrays contemporary China after the Cultural Revolution. The limitations imposed by tradition conflict with his characters’ modern expectations for love. His haiku-like prose thoughtfully details one man’s determination to find love, no matter how long the wait.

Jul 30, 2014

Recommended reading for those who are attracted to "emotionally unavailable" partners.

Oct 25, 2012

Just discovered this author. Loved the book especially the note on which it ended - cruel humour, but so funny and so, simply HUMAN and man-like :)

May 16, 2012

What struck me was its honesty. You may downright dislike some of the characters, it’s almost impossible not too as they seem to make such ludicrous life choices. Once I turned off my inclination to judge, to shut down my mind set of always thinking like a westerner, I thoroughly enjoyed this simple, fable-like tale. Ha Jin offers poetic insight into a foreign way of life. I believe I came away from this with a little better understanding of Chinese society. Found it interesting that the author based this on a true story. Winner of The National Book Award of 1999

hermlou Oct 30, 2011

Takes place in Communist China. Dr. Lin Kong is married to Shuyu and falls in love with Manna, a nurse in the hospital. There is strict regulation of a courtship and a strict rule about having only one child. Interesting story includes details of customs and meals which differ from ours, but the emotions are the same. I enjoyed the plot and writing style.

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SPL_STARR Jun 23, 2015

"Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu."

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