The Crazed
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The Crazed

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  1,440 ratings  ·  135 reviews
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post, Los Angeles times, and San Jose Mercury News Best Book of the Year

Ha Jin�s 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 p...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 6th 2004 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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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...more
A. S.
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
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...more
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...more
Stephen Gallup
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...more
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...more
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.
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!
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
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
"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
Roger DeBlanck
The title to Ha Jin’s third novel could be turned into a question. Who are the crazed? At some level, they include the entire Chinese system that views the human species as a stock of puppets. In a country like China, each person struggles with their decisions and choices, where an inner yearning to pursue the full extent of one’s individualism can land one under state suspicion. In The Crazed, Jin examines the plight of the Chinese people up to the point of Tiananmen Square. He shows through th...more
I picked up this book because quite frankly I was excited to find a beautiful hardcover book in one of the local Little Free Libraries. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and wondered if I had been drawn to the subject matter on a subconscious level. The focus is on a young graduate student, Jian Wan, who helps take care of his professor, Yang, who has suffered a stroke. His professor begins raving in his delirium and the student begins to learn not only more about his professor but also b...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
pazzia o libera espressione?

un professore colpito da ictus
un allievo e suo futuro genero che lo assite
la parlantina si scioglie e le parole vengono fuori,
ma in certe situazioni è meglio pensare di essere di fronte alla pazzia...
per tutto il libro ci lasciano pensare che il pazzo sia il vecchio professore
straparla, ricorda il suo passato e mette in discussione la sua vita
le donne, la carriera e la scelta di essere uno studioso
il povero Jian non può che seguire i suoi deliri e porsi la dom...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Crazed tells the story of Jien Wen, a graduate student in China during the Tienanmen Square uprising. When his soon to be father-in-law, and academic mentor, suffers a debilitating stroke, Jien is tasked as one of his caretakers. Jien spends every afternoon attempting to study for his PhD qualifying exams, but instead finds himself distracted by his old professor's ranting and raving about Mao and the weaknesses of being an academic. At first, Jien dismisses everything as the delusional word...more
I love Ha Jin's writing style. Waiting was one of the best things I read in 2011. But despite being equally as captivated by his prose now, The Crazed just didn't work for me. I didn't feel like the main plot tied well with the political undercurrents (despite there supposedly being parallels between the two?) and the final climax of the novel felt extraordinarily rushed and out of place. The pacing of this book was odd, the main character wasn't engaging, and the constant references to novels,...more
I finished page three hundred and twenty of this novel with no more comprehension of what Ha Jin intended it to say than I had when I began page one. I picked it up because I was interested in learning more about what China was like in the late 80s, when public unrest boiled over into the protests in Tiananmen Square, but I didn't feel as if The Crazed conveyed any sense of that. It's dealt with, but mostly in a rather opaque way: at once too vague and too lacking in subtlety. I'm not sure if it...more
Julie Drucker
I was sorely disappointed in this book. The book could have been read in the first chapter and the last two chapters and cut out all the rest. The ending left too many questions and I was left scratching my head as to why the author added some of the chapters to this book. You won't learn anything from this book and I don't recommend it to most readers. You would have to like this author a lot to want to read this book. A waste of my time sorry to say.
Good read - lots of good insight about Chinese society in the late 1980s. Very interesting to see how the characters' behaviors are shaped by the social, economic and political situation in China at the time. Ha Jin weaves a complex web of deception, trickery, selfishness, greed and at the same time redemption and personal growth. Various philosophical questions deftly addressed through some great storytelling. I would have given the book a 3.5 if I could but Goodreads doesn't allow that option....more
About three-quarters of the way through this book, I was about to give it 4 stars. But, the final 60-70 pages are so gripping and electric I had to go all out and give it all 5 stars.

That said, Ha Jin has intermixed real world events with fictional characters to create a heartbreaking story about despair, hope, and ultimately despair. Rich in texture and well-developed characters, Jin's heroes and villains jump off the page in 1989 China, with the attempted revolution in both the fore- and backg...more
Anna Rose
Professor Yang suffers a stroke and must be watched in the hospital by his student and future son-in-law Jain. However, something seems wrong with the wise professor's brain. Or could it be that he is finally speaking the truth to Jain? Could he be going crazy or is he finally sane?

Reading this novel with watching a documentary on the rise of communism and the counter-revolution in China was very enlightneing and educational. Jain must decide what he believes and where he stands. Historically, t...more
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Ha Jin...The Crazed, Ha Jim In General 4 17 Aug 10, 2012 08:10AM  
  • Brothers
  • The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai
  • The Vagrants
  • Raise the Red Lantern: Three Novellas
  • Beijing Coma
  • Wild Ginger
  • Sounds of the River: A Young Man's University Days in Beijing
  • Your Republic Is Calling You
  • Virgin Soul
  • Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Cao #5)
  • Trance: A Novel
  • One Man's Bible
  • The Lily Theater
  • Dragon Lady: The Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China
  • The World of Suzie Wong
  • Farewell My Concubine
  • Letters to Montgomery Clift (Working Classics)
  • Fragrant Harbor
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.
More about Ha Jin...
Waiting War Trash A Free Life The Bridegroom: Stories A Good Fall

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