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The Crazedby Ha Jin
Synopses & Reviews
Since the appearance of his first book of stories in English, Ha Jin has won the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and garnered comparisons to Dickens, Balzac, and Isaac Babel. "Like Babel," wrote Francine Prose in The New York Times Book Review, "Ha Jin observes everything...yet he tells the reader only" and precisely "as much as is needed to make his deceptively simple fiction resonate on many levels."
In his luminous new novel, the author of Waiting deepens his portrait of contemporary Chinese society while exploring the perennial conflicts between convention and individualism, integrity and pragmatism, loyalty and betrayal. Professor Yang, a respected teacher of literature at a provincial university, has had a stroke, and his student Jian Wan — who is also engaged to Yang's daughter — has been assigned to care for him. What at first seems a simple if burdensome duty becomes treacherous when the professor begins to rave: pleading with invisible tormentors, denouncing his family, his colleagues, and a system in which a scholar is "just a piece of meat on a cutting board."
Are these just manifestations of illness, or is Yang spewing up the truth? And can the dutiful Jian avoid being irretrievably compromised? For in a China convulsed by the Tiananmen uprising, those who hear the truth are as much at risk as those who speak it. At once nuanced and fierce, earthy and humane, The Crazed is further evidence of Ha Jin's prodigious narrative gifts.
"At its best, this has some of the pacing and texture of a skillfully constructed mystery....Not one of Ha Jin's better efforts. Still, readers who've admired his [other] fiction won't want to miss it." Kirkus Reviews
"[P]owerful....Ha's story is permeated by a grief that won't be eased or transmuted by heroic images of resistance....Like Gao Xingjian, Ha continues to refine his understanding of politics as an unmitigated curse." Publishers Weekly
In his luminous novel, the author of "Waiting" deepens his portrait of contemporary Chinese society while exploring the perennial conflicts between convention and individualism, integrity and pragmatism, loyalty and betrayal.
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post, Los Angeles times, and San Jose Mercury News Best Book of the Year
Ha Jins seismically powerful new novel is at once an unblinking look into the bell jar of communist Chinese society and a portrait of the eternal compromises and deceptions of the human state. When the venerable professor Yang, a teacher of literature at a provincial university, has a stroke, his student Jian Wan is assigned to care for him. Since the dutiful Jian plans to marry his mentors beautiful, icy daughter, the job requires delicacy. Just how much delicacy becomes clear when Yang begins to rave.
Are these just the outpourings of a broken mind, or is Yang speaking the truth—about his family, his colleagues, and his lifes work? And will bearing witness to the truth end up breaking poor Jians heart? Combining warmth and intimacy with an unsparing social vision, The Crazed is Ha Jins most enthralling book to date.
About the Author
Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 to attend Brandeis University. He is the author of the internationally best-selling novel Waiting, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award and the National Book Award; 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 novel In the Pond; and three books of poetry. He lives in Massachusetts and is a professor of English at Boston University.
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