Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Waiting (thoughts)

I read Waiting by Ha Jin as part of my international reading challenge. It tells the story of a decade-long love triangle between Lin Kong, Shuyu, and Manna Wu. Lin Kong and Shuyu have an arranged marriage, but Lin Kong, an army doctor, lives in a different area of China and only visits for a week and a half during the summer. Meanwhile, he carries on a chaste love affair with army nurse Manna Wu.

I didn't really enjoy the book. I was fascinated by the setting, since I don't know much about Communist China (I think it's set during the 60s and 70s), so that part of the book satisfied me. The rest, however, left me hollow. The whole book seemed very cynical about love, as if Ha Jin is making a point about the emptiness of life without love. While I appreciate the point, the book didn't throw the reader even one redemptive bone. The setting and the writing style are the reasons I rated Waiting as high as I did; Ha Jin can quickly paint a scene and keeps the plot moving along.

I can't say that I'd recommend Waiting to anyone. It isn't a terrible book, but it doesn't live up to the other books I've read in the course of this challenge. I don't really enjoy reviewing books that I don't like, but here's a much fuller review that I wholeheartedly concur with:

Favorite Passage

Yes, true lovers don't have to stay together looking at each other all the time; they look and move in the same direction. (214)

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