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The Bridegroom: Stories

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  1,412 ratings  ·  130 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Published (first published October 3rd 2000)
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Before I share my thoughts on this book, I would like you to consider this bit of history: Mao Zedong died in 1976 and the decade-long Cultural Revolution - that shook up China and led to the persecution and death of many Chinese - ended with his demise and with the arrest and eventual conviction of the Gang of Four (which includes Mao's wife). In 1978, Deng Xiaoping, a Party member who fell out of favour with Mao, won the power struggle within the CCP and it was he who introduced capitalism-ins ...more
Theresa Sjoquist
This collection of short stories by Ha Jin is set amongst the ordinary people of China and against the after effects of the circumstance of communism. Ha Jin offers us characters such as Mr Chiu in The Saboteur and Shaona, the six year old main character from In The Kindergarten who find ways to extract cunning retribution for injustice heaped on them. Alive is a tale which keeps you in the unfortunate Guhan's pocket until the end. Life plays the kinds of tricks which befall Guhan, not every day ...more
This was a wonderful collection of short stories, not only because of the eerie and off-kilter feel or the background or historical context, but really because of the usage of such vivid and yet disparate elements that meld together to create a dystopic universe that is all at once reality and fiction.

This was my first time reading Ha Jin but I must say with this one book, he has become a favorite of mine, His writing leaves you a bit in want, wondering sometimes if he delivered the point or if
I actually didn't finish this collection. It was very well-written, no doubt about that, but I found its appeal very... variable. For instance, the longest and most-acclaimed story, concerning efforts by a regional Chinese TV company to stage a tiger fight with a real tiger (and the hilarious fall-out that ensues) didn't grab me at all.

The collection had many things I like in short stories: domestic detail, a knack for indicating cultural particularities while conveying that they are to be taken
Really I'd give this book a 4.7 or 4.8---the writing is probably a 5, but I think maybe some of the stories were less character-based than I tend to like. Maybe just more broad---sometimes I felt like the society was the character, instead of any one individual? And maybe that makes sense, since Jin is giving us a perspective on life under modern Chinese communism in the context of encroaching capitalism.

Jin's little details are consistently heartbreaking and gorgeous, and the stories are engag

This book was my first contact with Ha Jin's writing, and it surprised me in many different ways. I can't say it ever once overwhelmed me or blew my mind at any point. It was the steady, honest voice of the writer that grew on me with every page. By the end of it, I was hooked and found myself craving more.

When it comes to favourites, mine were definitely "Broken", "The Bridegroom", "Alive", "The Woman From New York" and "In the Kindergarten", more or less in that order.

I enjoyed the different p
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Nathan Marone
Ha Jin writes fiction about a real place - China. If I didn't know any better, I'd have to think that most of what he writes is pure fable, George Orwell by way of John Steinbeck (at least in content, not in style). But the absurdist landscape that Ha Jin presents in this hilarious and dumbfounding collection is, by all accounts, something close to reality. You'd like to say he's a satirist or at least a humorist, but I think his subject matter does all the heavy lifting here. And as far as I'm ...more
Astrid Reza
the 21st century seems to be belong to china.

lately i've been addicted with chinese contemporary literature. the bridegroom is a collection of stories about the contemporary life in china. most of the stories set in the last half of the 20th centuries. where things turn so comically tragic.

"the bridegroom" hits me bad, especially the part about when the doctor said "being gay is not a sickness, it cannot be cured ... but we have to follow the government rule to give him some electric baths."

Zeny May Dy Recidoro
Almost all of the stories were favorites of mine. "A Tiger-fighter is Hard to Find" provides a clever and cheeky definition of the hero. "In Kindergarten" shows us how a little girl sticks it up to authority. "Alive" is a poignant story about memory and choice. "The Bridegroom" takes us to the problematics of gender and following the norms of society. I found "Saboteur" reminiscent of the encounters and crises in Yu Hua's "Brothers". Some of the stories, though, left me a bit perplexed, namely " ...more
'The Bridegroom', although entitles one of the many short stories in the book, is actually an anthology of short fiction describing the assimilation of American culture into that of China during the post-Maoism era. Being a part of Gen X and coming from a Chinese background, I am fortunate enough to be able to identify with the socialism that Ha Jin describes of in China, but at the same time able to understand the Western capitalist culture that he draws attention to. Most of his stories left m ...more
Short stories set in post-Cultural Revolution China. Alternately horrifying in their portrayal of life in China at the time and in how contemporary "Western" society still manages to look shitty in comparison. Ha Jin is a master of writing real human characters with a range of emotional states and motivations, and the short story format works well to showcase this. The people in these stories often deal with their circumstances in less than admirable ways, just like in real life.
Eveline Chao
Wasn't expecting to like this that much because I've read a ton of China books and often feel like I'm China booked out. But these stories were amazing and captured the dark absurdity of China so, so well. Funny without even seeming to try, deceptively simple, felt like it was written with no effort at all. And all the stories are really short and fun to read!
The Bridegroom is a series of 12 stories taking place in and around China's Muji City. Author Ha Jin's structure is clear and simple, but he says so much in these sentences readers may find themselves re-evaluating their own style.
"After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town" was my favorite story, as I liked seeing a communist worker being influenced by capitalism--wanting democracy in the end as well. The titular story, "The Bridegroom" is also haunting--detailing a man's plight with his son in law's ho
This was my first taste of modern Chinese literature having only read older works (Dream of the Red Chamber, Monkey, etc) & I appreciated these windows into a depressing period of Chinese history. Chinese friends told me that Ha Jin's novels were better so I will have to read further.
Bridegroom definitely requires some knowledge of the political and social climate of China pre- and post-Cultural Revolution. I'd have no idea if my best friend had not had to study for a 20th Century Chinese Literature exam and spent 1.5 hours talking at me about Mao's regime.

The book itself is definitely a curiosity - Ha Jin writes with grace and brilliant imagery of the Chinese countryside, balancing social commentary with intrigue. His tone and style are equally haunting and every story fee
This was a difficult book. They're stories, and the first 3/4 were totally depressing. I wondered if the amount of personal despair was allegory for social/political repression. A feeling of total impotence against the System - power - police - arbitrary uncontrollable unaccountable force. (Like reading of Uruguayan torture or CIA rendition.) (Is accountability the core of "democracy", or more generally, freedom?)

The later stories had more empowerment, and coming from the earlier despair, it was
Didn't realise this was a collection of short stories- not my favourite format. But these were rather dark but readable. Can't say you revel in the joy but in my opinion they are realistic and reflect the Chinese thought and 'way of doing things'.
This is a collection of strange stories, comically absurd in some places and Kafakaesque in others. They are set in the Chinese city of Muji City in the era after Mao when China was opening up to the rest of the world. It is still a communist nation, and some of the stories are about people caught up in conflict with the overwhelmingly powerful state and their doomed attempts to fight back. In the title story, for example, a young married man finds himself incarcerated for the crime of homosexua ...more
As with any short story collection, some were better than others. Still, even the weakest among them were pretty decent.

Favorites: "Broken"; "The Bridegroom"; "Flame"; "After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town"
Diane Bischof
The plight of the common man in everyday China during and post Cultural Revolution. Trials and tribulations are no different from one antipode to the other but the context, both sad and joyful, is revealing.
Really wonderful. The stories are engaging despite their length and put together offer a fascinating and valuable insight in to the common experience during an important amd transformational period in China's history.
Ha Jin makes an interesting comments on modern Chinese life in this book. The blind obedience to authority, the gossipy nature of the culture that keeps everyone in line. Much of this book shows the helplessness of Chinese trying simply to live and exist in their society, where their every movement and conversation is monitored by their neighbors and colleagues. Anyone who does not quite fit in is allowed to disappear with a mere shrug from those around them. It's too inconvenient to have differ ...more
Anna Prejanò
I cinesi sanno essere formidabili narratori. La precisione nelle descrizioni dà vita a un realismo in cui l'interiorità umana risulta con potente evidenza da cose, gesti, azioni. Un esempio perfetto del "mostrare, non dire" che era il motto di una narratrice come Flannery O'Connor (molto a proposito Ha Jin ha vinto il premio a lei dedicato). Dunque, in questi racconti è spesso un gesto, sovversivo o crudele, a esprimere un male di vivere universalmente umano. E allo stesso tempo un attaccamento ...more
A collection of short stories set in a China slowly leaving Maoism behind, 'The Bridegroom' stayed with me long after I put it down.
I liked this book, and easy, flowing read. He writes with several short stories, and none really connect. He's very raunchy, lots of talk of Hepatitis, vulgar sexual references, withering away from starvation. He writes very nonchalauntly, and the endings of each short story are abrupt and leave you hanging for a deeper conclusion. I liked the rough edges and the upfrontness of his truths. He paints a vivid picture of Chinese culture, mostly in lower-income and rural scenes. A great book for a l ...more
Jed Ringel
Like crawling the basement food shops of the Asian community in Flushing, NY. Delectable small plates that make you want more
Thomas Keech
These stories about life in contemporary China focus on the many ways the hopes and dreams of the characters are frustrated, not only by a corrupt political and legal system, but also by the lack of an overall social compact of decency and fairness in the society itself. This viewpoint may play into many Americans' preconceived prejudices about Chinese culture and society, but the stories certainly feel grounded in reality, and they are sometimes surprising and often moving.
It was a good collection of short stories and some of them wished he had fleshed them out into longer novellas.
Benjamin Kahn
It was OK. Although the stories were interesting enough, I did find most of the endings unsatisfactory.
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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.
More about Ha Jin...
Waiting War Trash A Free Life The Crazed A Good Fall

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