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The Bridegroom


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About the Author

Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 to attend Brandeis University. He is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Waiting, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Award, and War Trash, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize; the story collections The Bridegroom, which won the Asian American Literary Award, Under the Red Flag, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and Ocean of Words, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award; the novels The Crazed and In the Pond; and three books of poetry. His latest novel, A Free Life is his first novel set in the United States. He lives in the Boston area and is a professor of English at Boston University.War Trash, The Crazed, The Bridegroom, Waiting, In the Pond, and Ocean of Words are available in paperback from Vintage Books.


Ha Jin follows up his National Book Award-winning novel, Waiting, with a collection of a dozen short stories dealing with political and human relations in China. In the opening work, "Saboteur," a newly married man is imprisoned and in an act of vengeance later becomes responsible for an outbreak of acute hepatitis that ultimately affects over 800 people and kills six. In the title piece, a gay man deceptively marries a rather homely and obtuse young woman, leaving her guardian to struggle with the consequences. "Entrepreneur's Story," a tale of class and greed, tells of a temporary brick layer who recalls being told by his sweetheart's mother that "she'd rather throw her daughter into a sewer" than to let him marry her. Two pieces in which Jin intertwines humor into otherwise intense stories are "A Tiger Fighter Is Hard to Find," in which a movie company pits an actor against a fierce tiger in a quest for realism results, and "After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town," which describes how a Texas-based fried chicken franchise affects the Chinese with its capitalistic ways. Jin uses this collection to exhibit his strong writing and storytelling skills with his laconic use of words. Recommended for most larger public, academic, and Asian literature collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/00.]DShirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

It's difficult to think of another writer who has captured the conflicting attitudes and desires, and the still-changing conditions of daily life, of post-Cultural Revolution China as well as Ha Jin does in his second collection, which follows his NBA-winning novel, Waiting. These 12 stories attain their significant cumulative effect through spare prose penetrated by wit, insight and a fine sense of irony. One realizes in reading them that while human nature is universal, China's cultural and political repression exacerbates such traits as fear of authority (and the desire to circumvent it), male chauvinism and suspicion of outsiders. In "The Woman from New York," a young wife and mother who goes to the States for four years finds, on her return to Muji City (where most of these tales are set), that her child, her marriage, her job and her honor are forever lost. American business methods clash with Chinese traditions in "After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town," in which Chinese workers' anger about the behavior of their boss, Mr. Shapiro, is redoubled when they discover one of their own countrymen practicing the strange ethics of capitalism. Such varied protagonists as college professors, a factory worker, a horny cadre member, two uneducated peasants and a five-year-old girl illustrate the ways in which hardship, lack of living space, inflexible social rules and government quotas thwart happiness. The title story is perhaps the most telling indication of the clash of humanitarian feeling and bureaucratic intervention. The protagonist, who has been taught to believe that "homosexuality... originated in Western capitalism and bourgeois lifestyle,'' is unable to credit his own sympathy for his son-in-law, who is sent to a mental hospital to cure his "disease." Ha Jin has a rare empathy for people striving to balance the past and the future while caught on the cusp of change. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"A genuine pleasure."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Finely wrought... Every story here is cut like a stone."
--Chicago Sun-Times

"The Bridegroom... showcases [Ha Jin's] mastery of craft, the consummate restraint and nearly telegraphic objectivity with which he paints difficult truths."
--The Boston Globe

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