boldtype
Ha Jin:
Waiting
Ha Jin
  Waiting  
Ha Jin    
reading

an excerpt



  Ha Jin's compassionate tale of love and longing, Waiting, is the winner of this year's National Book Award for Fiction. This is an impressive feat for any first novel, but it is almost unfathomable when you consider that the author has only been writing in English for little more than a decade.

Waiting is the story of Dr. Lin Kong, an officer in the Chinese army who was pressured by his parents into an arranged marriage with a woman he knew he could never love. Stationed in the city a full day's travel away from his wife and daughter, Lin meets Manna Wu, a nurse in the hospital where he works, and falls deeply in love with her. Every summer for seventeen years, Lin makes the long journey back to his small village to ask his wife for a divorce, and every summer she amiably agrees until sitting before the judge and backing out at the last minute. While still married, even though they haven't slept in the same bed since conceiving their child, Lin is forbidden from even holding Manna's hand, let alone consummating their relationship. A loophole in Chinese law, however, allows divorce without consent if couples are separated for eighteen years. As the characters wait for the approach of this eighteen year mark, Jin takes this deceptively straightforward narrative and imbues it with subtle, complex themes and wry comic tones. In elegantly minimalist prose that illuminates the lives of Lin, his wife Shuyu, and Manna, Ha Jin has produced a novel of incredible depth and power that is well-deserving of the award bestowed upon it.

In this issue of Bold Type you'll find an excerpt from Waiting and an exclusive audio reading by Ha Jin.
 
Bold Type
Bold Type
Bold Type
     
 
  Photo of Ha Jin copyright © Emma Hanson

Send us comments