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What readers think of Waiting, plus links to write your own review.

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by Ha Jin

Waiting by Ha Jin X
Waiting by Ha Jin
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  • First Published:
    Oct 1999, 308 pages

    Sep 2000, 308 pages


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There are currently 9 reader reviews for Waiting
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One of the best books I've read in years. Ending is fantastic. This book came out around the same time The Hours came out and I can't remember a thing about The Hours, but this book is burned into my brain.

A young man gets married in an arranged marriage and goes off to be a doctor in the Army. After a few years he realizes he doesn't love his wife and his parents that made the marriage are dead. He decides to seek a divorce from his wife. He has already fathered a child. He doesn't have any desire to remarry. His wife has lived in a different city for years and his child barely knows him, so it seems natural for him to get divorced.

In China couples must wait (so the story says) to get a divorce for a court that only convenes once every year. And the spouses must agree. His wife always agrees until the last moment and then she says no. Many years go by. He was happy living in a different city and being basically single albeit married, but then he meets a women...a MUST READ!
Véronique from Switzerland

I just loved it! Beautiful story in a China between modern and ancient tradition. A transition of History in wich love help passing through ages.

Just read it!

Véronique from Switzerland

excellent book, showing the consequences of long term waiting

Beautifully written story about a man who spends his life waiting for something "better" instead of appreciating what he has.
Power Reviewer
Cathryn Conroy

A Literary Masterpiece, Political Allegory, and Love Story…But It's Not an Easy Read
This book is a real dichotomy.

On the one hand, it is a literary masterpiece, a political allegory, and a love story that won the 1999 National Book Award for Fiction, the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award, and was a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize.

On the other hand, the title is quite apt. The reader will be kept waiting…and waiting…and waiting for something to happen. It doesn't. This is a relatively short book that feels quite long.

At its core, this is a love story. But it's so much more than that. Written by Ha Jin, this is the story of Lin Kong, a man who watches as his life passes him by. Forced into a loveless arranged marriage at an early age, Lin becomes a doctor and works in the big city of Muji, while his wife, Shuyu, and their daughter, Hua, live in rural Goose Village. Every summer he visits them. Every summer he asks Shuyu for a divorce, even making it as far as appearing before a judge. But every summer his request is denied. The impetus for the divorce is simple: At the army hospital, Lin has a girlfriend named Manna Wu. Because adultery is absolutely forbidden by Communist Party, Lin and Manna have a platonic relationship. What happens when Lin is finally granted the divorce after 18 years is at the crux of the novel's ultimate premise.

Lin's life is defined by waiting for everything he can't seem to achieve, and he blames it all on everyone but himself—the Chinese government, the army's regulations, his gossiping coworkers, and society's unwritten, but stringent, rules—when it's actually his own inability to take the risks needed to fully live and love.

The story takes place over several decades from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s during the height of the Chinese cultural revolution. The novel deftly contrasts life in a remote, rural village with life in the city, and also portrays the strict control that the Chinese government had over its citizens' lives and freedoms.

This is a deeply tragic, disturbing, and sorrowful story of a flawed man who waits his entire life for…nothing. And there is an important life lesson in that. Still, this is not an easy read so be prepared for that.

The novel was great!
Some of the conflicts happen today...
I can relate.

An enjoyable book, but one that is more of a journey than a destination, if you'll pardon the cliche. The ending is not the least bit satisfying when you first put the book down, but rather one that makes you sit up a few hours later and think "Wait a minute, let's consider the implications here."

Having immediately lent the book to friends after finishing it, I think I can safely say that you'll get more from the book if you've got a basic knowledge of Chinese culture and customs.
mayfield secondary school

my class did not enjoy this!
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