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The Crazed

3.47  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,716 Ratings  ·  155 Reviews
Professor Yang, a respected teacher of literature, has had a stroke and it falls to Jian Wan - who is also engaged to Yang's daughter - to care for him. It initially seems a simple duty until the professor begins to rave, pleading with invisible tormentors and denouncing his family...

Are these just manifestations of illness, or is Yang spewing up the truth? In a China conv
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 2nd 2003 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Books Ring Mah Bell
First, let me say, I loved the feel of the paper in this book. LOVED it. It felt good on my fingers. Please someone tell me I'm not alone on this? I don't know when I last noticed paper quality... it was lovely.

Now, the book itself was okay. I wanted more, and maybe that's my fault. Ha Jin tells an amazing story, but honestly, I was turned off by the reciting of poems and chants and songs. It got old. Not to mention I am not a huge poetry person either (yes, there are exceptions) but this was bl
Feb 24, 2009 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok. First of all do NOT read this book's description on Goodreads, it ruins the whole book! Also don't listen to these fools' reviews whining about this book: "its boring" "the end mystifies me" and so on. How anyone could be "mystified" by the end of this book, or could have "no idea what Ha Jin was trying to say", leaves me incredulous.
I'll admit I also thought it was monotonous at first. I was mildly interested for the first 100 pages--but after that I was totally consumed. The writing is si
Horace Derwent
Jul 21, 2016 Horace Derwent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the book is small, smaller than my palm, the letters are small either, otherwise the book'd be perfect
A. S.
Apr 18, 2011 A. S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a university student applying to graduate studies, I realize how tough it can be with "office politics" getting in the way of research. But as a student in a democratic and free country, I appreciate that I can go in any direction that my research takes me (provided I can secure funding). Ha Jin's novel The Crazed gives us a view into Chinese scholarship of the recent past, and, like the main character Jian Wan, makes us question the present and the future of studies in a highly insular commu ...more
Virginia O'connell
Having read 'Waiting' by the same author, I was intrigued by what this book would offer. On the whole, it was a fairly enjoyable read. I found the parts where Ha Jin describes life in China at the time interesting, and wish there had been more of this in the book. The end chapters depicting the horrors of Tiananmen Square were brutally told, conveying the sense of injustice and fear that the events engendered. However, despite being the main main theme of the novel, I found the hospitalised uncl ...more
Allison Cohan
Jul 05, 2016 Allison Cohan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that I was pretty sure would be boring but somehow I got sucked in. The story surrounds a Chinese professor who suddenly falls ill (and has a stroke, I think) and the care that is given to him by one of his students who is soon to be his son-in-law. The end of the book focuses on the uprisings at Tienamen Square and causes the protagonist to call into question his role in the world and whether he wants to be an academic. I know there is a lot of meaning in this book, b ...more
May 11, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My father is a history fiend. He loves reading historical novels and learning about the past. One year over the holidays my three siblings and I, without any planning or discussion amongst us, all purchased him gifts of books or videos on World War II. I think he finally reached the point of being overwhelmed by historical information.
I've read several of my father's books, but have never been able to embrace history the way he does. I do like it though when a book is able to take a historical e
Stephen Gallup
Aug 13, 2010 Stephen Gallup rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first thought on finishing was chagrin that I might easily have gone through life without reading or even knowing about this great novel. I just happened to spot it on the library shelf, and picked it up because I'd liked Waiting .

It's true that I have a special interest in stories about China, but what makes this one so special for me is the way the narrator, Jian, is handled. He's a young graduate student, engaged to be married, with important exams looming, who must put everything on hold
Jul 14, 2009 abatage rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Ha Jin offers an insight into China's culture that is at once confronting and revealing. Although his work is driven by seemingly ordinary plots, the real beauty is in his portrayal of a late twentieth-century China, as it wrestles with its inner turmoil between traditional values and contemporary influences.

I've read a few reviews that criticise the first half of The Crazed for being slow and uninteresting, but nothing could be further from the truth. Granted, there is a certain softness inhera
This was an amazing book, from start to finish. The writing is lucid, illuminating, often begging for re-savoring. The plot is relatively straightforward, proceeding forward with only essential looks in the rear view mirror. The characters are memorable, finely sketched and despite the cultural divide, relatively easy to relate to.

The story begins when a Chinese literature professor has a stroke, a somewhat unusual stroke, and his future son-in-law and devoted student is called to the hospital t
Apr 19, 2015 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read Ha Jin's "Waiting", I was anxious to read this novel. Ha Jin writes about contemporary Chinese society.

The story revolves around Jian who is a university student. One of his favourite professors has a stroke and is hospitalized. Jian commits to looking after this man every afternoon. Jian is also engaged to this man's daughter which makes him feel obligated to spend time with him. During the professors hospitalization, he rants and raves about his colleagues, his family, the univers
Alejandro Ramirez
Nov 04, 2014 Alejandro Ramirez rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dios, que libro tan malo!! Mediocre, dolorosamente mediocre. Entiendo que si hay que publicar una novela sobre la masacre en la plaza Tiananmen y la prevalente corrupción, burocracia y mezquinidad del gobierno chino, es mejor que lo escriba un autor chino. Pero vaya, con medio billón de habitantes, no es posible que no encuentren uno mejor! Es increíble que haya ganado el premio PEN-Hemingway con otra de sus novelas. Tiene unas páginas rescatables, cuando el homeless se queja de que le cobran po ...more
Apr 13, 2010 Joanelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a simple read, and at first, you're thinking,what the heck is this about? because each chapter goes off into different tangents, and you're trying to grasp Jian's thoughts, but you don't really follow--and that itself is intriguing. So by the end, you're still wondering and putting the puzzle pieces together. Interesting read and totally worthwhile if you're searching for banned books.
Jan 26, 2008 Angela rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For the fact that I had to review an online synapsis of what this book was about, says it all. Cold, boring, and a teaser in the beginning you can see coming from a mile away. I grabbed it because the author is a celebrated Boston University professor, and he had acclaim for his previous book. This thin read is definitely thin. Tiananmen Square flashback and a strained relationship. Skip!
Mar 28, 2016 Eva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ha Jin is an author I only recently discovered and already I admire his skill in laying China bare to an English audience in the English language. This particular book provides much food for thought on what leads to a meaningful life outside of religious beliefs. "The Crazed" additionally showcases the repercussions of a self-interested ruling class within the communist system wherein such self-interest isn't supposed to exist. Not that such self-interest ever ceases to exist in any system of go ...more
Chase Better
Jul 20, 2015 Chase Better rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not what I was expecting, but good.

It's a critique on academia, especially under the rule of the Communist Party in China. Can you really call yourself an academic if everything you say is heavily censored and you're not even allowed to read the Bible? No, academics are more like clerks in this country. They are meat on the chopping block, with the Party being the butcher.

Professor Yang lived through the Cultural Revolution, even though he was paraded as a demon regularly. Jian Wan, the protagon
Christa Harrison
I love reading cross-cultural books, so I did enjoy this, and it was set in an important historical time for China which was also captivating. But I could not stand the author. I don't know if he was trying to sound foolish because the narrator was foolish, or if the author just couldn't think of any other words to describe the narrator's thoughts than "in other words" as if the readers didn't understand the previous thought. That got on my nerves, so the 5 stars that I would give it for histori ...more
Jan 13, 2014 Doug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
It's a book that my 11th grade teacher, Mr Reimer, would have loved, the book had so many themes to explore: the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Cultural Revolution and its lingering scars on the intellectuals who lived through it, the personal motivations and actions of a few individuals coalescing into tumultuous political events, nefarious party politics, etc. The impact of the book was blunted because the book started off slow, all the poetry slowed down the book (maybe knowing the source mat ...more
Jan 07, 2016 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melody by: Patti Witt
A stroke victim sometimes babbles nonsense that just might be more truthful than his pre-stroke talk. The message of the book seems a little jumbled to me. But liked the exposure to an insider's view of Chinese academic life.
Jeff Keehr
I originally wanted to read Ha Jin's Waiting, which won the National Book Award. But that book doesn't appear to be available as audio yet, so I got this instead. It is interesting as an example of Chinese culture but it did not impress me. The theme is developed rather tediously, using the rantings of an old and dissatisfied scholar. But it does have a theme and that is a good thing. The main character is likeable and realistic. It is a rather artless rendering of the story. I would still like ...more
Nathan Marone
This is my fourth Ha Jin book and by far the most compelling. It covers in riveting detail one student's descent into the hell that was Beijing, June 3rd, 1989, but focuses most of its attention on the intellectual climate leading up to that massacre. For average students and academics the futility of study in a nation that wants to control the results can only lead to a desire to escape. Incredibly, The Crazed serves not only as an indictment of Chinese government but also as a prose ode to the ...more
This book at times was frustrating. Ha Jin does have an excellent use of the language. He also never plans on going back to live in China, due to the content of this book.

The Crazed is about Jian, a master's graduate student who is preparing for his PhD tests that will qualify him to transfer to the highly reputable Beijing University, when his advisor suffers from a stroke. His advisor is also his fiancee's father, who lives in Beijing, and is preparing for medical tests to become a pediatricia
The review below is not entirely true. It gets better towards the middle and end but probably not a book I would recommend.

Set during the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989, The Crazed, a novel from Ha Jin, the award-winning author of the bestseller Waiting, unites a prominent Chinese university professor who suffers a brain injury and Jien Wen, a favorite student and future son-in-law who becomes his caretaker. As Professor Yang rants about his earlier life, his bizarre outbursts begin to strike
Mar 24, 2011 William1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 21-ce, china
Ha Jin is subtle. He doesn't beat us over the head with an overview of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. So the non-Chinese reader can be a little lost here without that background. (The best preparation I can think of is Nien Cheng's magnificent Life and Death in Shanghai.) The Cultural Revolution was a world turned upside down. Anyone subject to foreign influences---intellectuals, officials, students, artists and dissidents---were labeled "rightists" or "counterrevolutionaries." They were humil ...more
Oct 10, 2010 Marika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was good. It gave me (as did Waiting) such an amazing glimpse in to the personal/cultural differences between Chinese life and ours. And it was an interesting "young man finds himself" story.

There was one part in the story where the main character's literature professor is giving his theory on the difference between Western and Eastern poetry. He says that Western society is built on the individual, and so a writer protects his individuality as something precious and adopts a persona for wr
Jan 07, 2010 George rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When a college professor suffers a stroke and ends up hospitalized, his student and future son-in-law is called upon to help take care of him. In the confining hospital room, the student learns many truths about his teacher. Meanwhile the student uprisings he hears about in the news head toward their climax in Beijing. Ha Jin's books have never been quick page-turners for me. His writing is slow and deliberate, and I've always felt rewarded in the end. As others have commented here, the first ha ...more
Oct 14, 2013 Dani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was deeply impressed by this novel.

What stunned me first: the similarity between the description of the communist regime in China and everything I've heard and read about the Bulgarian socialist period. Cultures so different, but reacting in almost the same way: there have been similar stories in my home country, as well. People deprived of their dignity, of the right to choose a life for themselves, to speak their mind openly... Maybe that's a strong reason to feel sympathy for the strugglin
Feb 12, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
The Crazed was the first of Ha Jin’s books I read after stumbling across it as a new release when working at a public library. I did not remember much about the book other than a considerable feeling of disappointment and a few of the main characters. After re-reading War Trash (which has become my favorite of his novels), I decided to revisit The Crazed as well.

The Crazed shares many common themes with the better known Waiting. Both novels mix a detailed look at domestic China (complete with th
Apr 20, 2013 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m currently undecided about this book. The writing is interesting to me because it is set in China and describes a culture and country for which I know nothing about. And so it is teaching me. Learning is a primal and constructive reason to read.

But the story is universal – a student is taking care of his fading professor after he has suffered a stroke. The professor’s struggles is with his diminishing intellectual capacity and the sentimental urge to look back on his life to find relevance an
Jul 20, 2009 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Everybody was surprised when Professor Yang suffered a stroke in the spring of 1989. He had always been in good health, and his colleagues used to envy his energy and productiveness - he had published more than any of them and had been a mainstay of the Literature Department, directing its M.A program, editing a biannual journal, and teaching a full load. Now even the undergraduates were talking about his collapse, and some of them would have gone to the hospital if Secretary Peng had not annou ...more
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Ha Jin...The Crazed, Ha Jim In General 4 19 Aug 10, 2012 08:10AM  
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Ha Jin is the pen name of Xuefei Jin, a novelist, poet, short story writer, and Professor of English at Boston University. Ha Jin writes in English about China, a political decision post-Tiananmen Square.
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