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The Bridegroomby Ha Jin
"Ha Jin, the author of the National Book Award-winning Waiting, has taken up the task of teaching his audience about life in China after the Cultural Revolution. He's armed with the necessary weapons (spry narrative, intricate knowledge of Chinese culture, and uncommon wisdom), and the twelve stories in The Bridegroom quietly disseminate the hard truth." Dan Torday, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
Fifteen years after arriving in the United States, Ha Jin found himself under the American literary spotlight when his second novel, Waiting, became the first to receive both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. In The Bridegroom Jin employs the same spare, elegant style to great success three of the twelve stories in this collection were selected for Best American Short Stories. Jin is now recognized as one of the greatest chroniclers of contemporary Chinese society, which has for decades been working through a deep and unsettling transition. The Bridegroom's title story is narrated by a guardian struggling to come to terms with his otherwise model son-in-law, who has been arrested, institutionalized, and given electric baths for the "bourgeois, Western crime" of being homosexual. The collection also includes stories about academics, fast-food workers, an amnesiac, and a deluded, tiger-fighting actor. Each of these characters is shaped by personal experience as well as social order. As in Waiting, all of these stories take place in Mu Jin and together form an insightful exploration of the human heart, as well as a detailed, thought-provoking portrait of a culture in turmoil. Lilus, Powells.com
From the National Book Award-winning author of Waiting, a new collection of short fiction that confirms Ha Jin's reputation as a master storyteller.
Each of The Bridegroom's twelve stories three of which have been selected for inclusion in The Best American Stories takes us back to Muji City in contemporary China, the setting of Waiting. It is a world both exotic and disarmingly familiar, one in which Chinese men and women meet with small epiphanies and muted triumphs, leavening their lives of quiet desperation through subtle insubordination and sometimes crafty resolve.
In the title story, a seemingly model husband joins a secret men's literary club and finds himself arrested for the "bourgeois crime" of homosexuality. "Alive" centers on an official who loses his memory in an earthquake and lives happily for months as a simple worker; when he suddenly remembers who he is, he finds that his return to his old life proves inconvenient for everyone. In "A Tiger-Fighter Is Hard to Find," a television crew's inept attempt to film a fight scene with a live Siberian tiger lands their lead actor in a mental hospital, convinced that he is the mythical tiger-fighter Wu Song.
Reversals, transformations, and surprises abound in these assured stories, as Ha Jin seizes on the possibility that things might not be as they seem. Parables for our times with a hint of the reckless and the absurd that we have come to expect from Ha Jin The Bridgegroom offers tales both mischievous and wise.
"The Bridegroom is an absorbing work by a deeply gifted writer, spare yet rich, witty yet heart-rending. Despite the pain these characters endure, Jin rejoices in the humanity he so aptly depicts." Verity Ludgate-Fraser, Christian Science Monitor
"His literary vision, like his subjects thus far, is Chinese, and the English language not his calling but his arbitrary fate. But his eye for detail, his great storytelling talent these universal gifts suffuse his work and make The Bridegroom a genuine pleasure." Claire Messud, New York Times Book Review
"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....Ha Jin has a rare empathy for people striving to balance the past and the future while caught on the cusp of change." Publishers Weekly
From the remarkable Ha Jin, winner of the National Book Award for his celebrated novel Waiting, a collection of comical and deeply moving tales of contemporary China that are as warm and human as they are surprising, disturbing, and delightful.
In the title story, the head of security at a factory is shocked, first when the hansomest worker on the floor proposes marriage to his homely adopted daughter, and again when his new son-in-law is arrested for the "crime" of homosexuality. In "After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town," the workers at an American-style fast food franchise receive a hilarious crash course in marketing, deep frying, and that frustrating capitalist dictum, "the customer is always right."Ha Jin has triumphed again with his unforgettable storytelling in The Bridegroom.
About the Author
Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 to attend Brandeis University. He is the author of two books of poetry; two previous collections of stories, Ocean of Words, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, and Under the Red Flag, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction; and two other novels, In the Pond and Waiting, which won both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. He lives in Atlanta, where he is Young J. Allen Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.
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