Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Author: Ha Jin
Genre: Fiction, China
I really don't know why I do it to myself. Chinese novels (and many of their movies) are lovely and breath-taking, but they always leave me feeling mildly morose. On the bright side, I bounce back by realizing just how blessed I am to leave in America, where being positive is practically a national sport. I also remember to be grateful for my many, many freedoms here. This novel, set in 70s and 80s China, provided a stark reminder of just how wonderful freedom is.
Waiting is about a man, Lin Kong, who spends his life -you guessed it- waiting for things to happen. He is passive and allows everything to more or less bowl him over. Once he realizes how good the things he let go of were, it's far too late to recover them. He is a pitiable man, one who doesn't know his own self well enough to help himself in any way.
I was far more interested in the woman of the story: Shuyu, Lin's wife, and Manna, Lin's girlfriend. They are so polarly opposite and yet so very, very strong. They work, and they wait, and they live in a way Lin cannot.
I read this book for my reading challenge's topic "A National Book Award Winner". It was Jin did a lovely job crafting this novel, fleshing his characters well and giving us intriguing landscapes and settings to consider. I recommend this, but it's not a light read. It'll take some time and thought to truly absorb.