Summary and book reviews of The Boat Rocker by Ha Jin

The Boat Rocker

by Ha Jin

The Boat Rocker by Ha Jin X
The Boat Rocker by Ha Jin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2016, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2017, 240 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the universally admired, award-winning author of Waiting and War Trash: an urgent, timely novel that follows an aspiring author, an outrageous book idea, and a lone journalist's dogged quest for truth in the Internet age.

New York, 2005. Chinese expatriate Feng Danlin is a fiercely principled reporter at a small news agency that produces a website read by Chinese all over the world. Danlin's explosive exposés have made him legendary among readers - and feared by Communist officials. But his newest assignment may be his undoing: investigating his ex-wife, Yan Haili, an unscrupulous novelist who has willingly become a pawn of the Chinese government in order to realize her dreams of literary stardom.

Haili's scheme infuriates Danlin both morally and personally - he will do whatever it takes to expose her as a fraud. But in outing Haili, he is also provoking her powerful political allies, and he will need to draw on all of his journalistic cunning to come out of this investigation with his career - and his life - still intact. A brilliant, darkly funny story of corruption, integrity, and the power of the pen, The Boat Rocker is a tour de force.

ONE

A week before the fourth anniversary of 9/11, my boss, Kaiming, barged into my office, rattling a three-page printout in his hands. "Look at this, Danlin," he said, dropping the papers on my desk. "This is outrageous! How could they claim that George W. Bush had agreed to endorse a book by Yan Haili? Everyone can tell it's a lie the size of heaven."

I picked up the printout, an article from The Yangtze Morning Post. It raved about "a landmark novel," not yet released. I had recently signed a book contract myself and was used to the hyperbole of the book business, but it was the novelist's name, Yan Haili, that took my breath away. She was my ex-wife. That brassy bitch—she never stopped vying for attention.

The article, printed in the newspaper's literary and art supplement, gushed that her novel, Love and Death in September, was an exotic, whirlwind love story, set by turns in North America, China, Australia, England, Russia, and France. Haili had been working on...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

...as a first person narrative of a – perhaps too-naïve – Asian-American man's experience, The Boat Rocker is a compelling glimpse into the mirror he holds up to the world of 21st Century politics, nationalism and journalism, and publishing.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review (691 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ha Jin stretches Danlin's initial missives, though amusing, nearly to the point of repetitive exhaustion, yet as the novel shifts focus from small squabbles to a more worldly narrative dissecting homeland loyalty and international relationships, it gains momentum. Ha Jin's prose is always pleasurable to read

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. The narrator ultimately realizes what an innocent he's been, and the reader shares the epiphanies of this pilgrim's progress.

Booklist
Starred Review. Laced with acid observations about the complicated collusion between China and the U.S. and the often compromised role of the press, as well as passages of ambushing beauty and drollery, Ha Jin's intensely internalized tale of moral and political dilemmas, greed, conscience, and longing is suspenseful, passionate, and wise.

Library Journal
Starred Review. National Book Award-winning Ha Jin uses sly, black humor to underscore the high price of integrity, the consequences of betrayal, and the power of the written word. Jin's latest should cross multiple genres and is especially timely for an election year.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Building a Wall Between Impartiality and Personal Opinion

Ethics ScaleThe protagonist in The Boat Rocker, Feng Danlin, is a journalist who prides himself on being impartial in his reporting and principled about expressing his opinion. Throughout the book he wrestles with the importance of maintaining objectivity. He researches facts and scrupulously reports his findings, calling out fraud where he sees it.

It is a perennial battle fought out in every newsroom the world over. Some reporters offer opinion with the facts. Others bend over backward to assure only verifiable facts get reported, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions. But are all facts equal? Are all ideas built upon solid ground? Do readers even care? Questions like these have especially dominated more newsrooms in the take-no-prisoners...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Ha Jin

If you liked The Boat Rocker, try these:

  • A Map of Betrayal jacket

    A Map of Betrayal

    by Ha Jin

    Published 2015

    About this book

    More books by this author

    From the award-winning author of Waiting and War Trash: a riveting tale of espionage and conflicted loyalties that spans half a century in the entwined histories of two countries—China and the United States—and two families.

  • The Collective jacket

    The Collective

    by Don Lee

    Published 2013

    About this book

    A sparkling bildungsroman about friendship and betrayal, art and race.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Black Leopard, Red Wolf
    Black Leopard, Red Wolf
    by Marlon James
    If you are looking for an indulgent, escapist fantasy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf may not be for you. ...
  • Book Jacket: That Time I Loved You
    That Time I Loved You
    by Carianne Leung
    Carrianne Leung was a Toronto Book Award finalist for That Time I Loved You as well as for her debut...
  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A People's History of Heaven
    by Mathangi Subramanian

    A story of love and friendship, and fighting for the places we love.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Last Year of the War
    by Susan Meissner

    A little-known story of WWII with great resonance for our times.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao

An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.