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The Bridegroom

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,079 ratings  ·  208 reviews
Reversals, transformations, and surprises abound in these assured stories. Parables for our times--with a hint of the reckless and the absurd that we have come to expect from Ha Jin--The Bridegroom offers tales both mischievous and wise.

From the National Book Award-winning author of Waiting, a new collection of short fiction that confirms Ha Jin's reputation as a master st
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 11th 2001 by Vintage (first published October 3rd 2000)
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 ·  2,079 ratings  ·  208 reviews

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This is a collection of short stories published in 2001, but some of the individual stories date from as early as 1997. They are typically set in an emerging China - post Cultural Revolution, but not too long after, as Western ideas make their way in.

They are a hit and miss collection, mostly revolving around personal relationships in China -many of which deal with what are probably not only Chinese problems, but they are in this book - government intervention, a reliance of the traditional stru
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
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Short stories that take place in China after the Culture Revolution. I don't know exactly what that was but I'd say they take place in the 1970s and 1980s. Most had to do about learning English and attending school (which I'm guessing was Ha Jin's wheelhouse.)

Easy to read, sometimes funny and makes you realize how alike everyone is in wanting to get revenge, put their best foot forward for an old beau, not knowing what's behind a marriage and protesting against "the man" even when that's just y
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of short stories. The first one was quite a surprise ending. All of them bring out the stark cultural differences between Western and Eastern culture and politics. I especially liked the story called Cowboy Chicken. Another surprise ending.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first of Ha Jin. A compilation of stories revolved around Chinese culture and social, a story of people living in a community-- conflict of family/generation, problem in love and relationship, bureaucracy and the difficulty of strict working system, bit of erotic scenes and few taboo matters.

It was written well-- not draggy with fascinating narratives, love Ha Jin's style of writing. Point of stories were sometimes just about a daily life of the characters but it been given a smooth and prop
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookcrossed
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
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wow- this is the best Ha Jin I've read yet- my favorite stories were "Alive" and "Broken"- they were so haunting, and really stuck with me. I couldn't stop thinking about them. Also, "After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town" is so funny and fascinating. It really highlights some major cultural differences in terms of Chinese vs. American ways of operating a business, or just communicating and behaving in general. Though these were my favorites, every single story in this book is captivating and worth ...more
May 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Short stories, set in modern day China. It's a nice cross-section of different lives in a different culture. Interesting, moving and entertaining writing. ...more
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
Deepashri Chavan
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short and simple 12 stories. great travel time read.
Jul 28, 2020 added it
I don't know why I didn't have anything to say about this book when I first read and shared it here, though what I can say is that it most certainly played a significant influence in the shaping of The New York Stories and the now refreshed and (soon to be) re-released UPSTATE. ...more
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Completely forgot that I was even reading this. Enjoyed some of the stories, couldn't get through others quick enough ...more
Tresa Casaletto
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
A collection of very well written, depressing short stories about life in China in the 1970's, 80's and 90's. ...more
Nafisa Choudhury
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of short stories narrated with humour and a sharp sense of irony. Ha Jin portrays stories of recognisable and unfortunately very real people, taking in the viewpoint of the mass while putting in its center very odd individuals. It's also a pointedly critical look at communism in China, but never loses compassion for the characters in making that statement.

However, the writing is quite frankly boring in its starkness. There's much that can be improved in the style of the stor
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Jul 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Theresa Sjoquist
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
John Hubbard
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
A wonderful collection of short stories all set to some degree in Muji City. I thought Muji was a fictional city and probably so did Ha Jin. I found that Muji is a village of 800 located near Tibet at about 12,000 feet. It is certainly not the Muji City of The Bridegroom in which the Dallas chain Cowboy Chicken opens a branch, factories exist, beggars are present, and a certain amount of Party and military elite live. The most engaging aspect is probably the various crimes the citizens are accus ...more
Lucile Barker
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
139. The Bridegroom by Ha Jin
This is a great collection of short stories, many set in the last days of the Communist regime. From banquets where there is too much or too little food to making films with live stuffed tigers, telegraph operators falling in love over the wires, and the absolute lack of freedom that people had at that time. People are prosecuted for making the wrong kind of joke. There is difficulty in adjusting to the coming of capitalism in “After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town” whic
Josephine (Jo)
These short stories are set during the Chinese cultural revolution of the 1960's and 70's. All of the stories tell us something new (and often quite shocking) about life in China at the time. The tales are told with irony and sarcasm, they are sometimes touching. I was amazed at the way people were expected to live and even more so by the fact that they accepted it and were obedient to the government rules , of course they knew no different but life for some was totally degrading miserable and ' ...more
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've enjoyed several of Jin's novels, but this was the first collection of his short stories that I'd read. Without exception, each story quickly introduces interest and tension, establishing a little world within the first few paragraphs.

Thematically, the stories seem to be in the same vein as his novel Waiting, with which they share long-awaited payoffs that do not go the way characters assume they will and a mood of nonsensationalized harshness, even brutality, that is sometimes leavened wit
Mar 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those would want to understand Chinese society
A collection of stories - all of them detailing the difficulties experienced by the Chinese in their jobs, with co-workers, with the police. Nothing that happened could be kept private and everyone expressed their frank opinions while exchanging gossip. Being arrested for the most insignifant transgressions was a daily occurence. The stories are basically about what everyone did in order to survive. Ha Jin writes well, but one should hesitate before reading more of what he writes if this is to b ...more
Mar 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This collection of short stories beautifully conveys a changing China from the rigours of communism to a post-Mao influence of capitalism. The different stories work individually, but the collection as a whole manages to bring each character's story together in an ever-changing society reflected with humour, sadness, sexuality, nationalism and American influence.

If you've ever wanted to get a feel for daily life in a remote region of communist China and be entertained at the same time... this i
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I love a good short story and where some of these were quite good, I felt most of them were a little too open ended for my liking. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy books where the endings aren't so defined and I can use my imagination to finish the story as I'd like it to end, but so many of the short stories in this book felt like the story just stops, that there is no real conclusion, simple that Ha Jin decided not to write any more on the subject. I wish he'd given some of the stories a bit mor ...more
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I particularly enjoyed "Alive" and "In the Kindergarten". I liked "In the Kindergarten" because it was one of the few without a sad ending. "Alive" was interesting because it showed a really unique way of dealing with a city- or region-wide tragedy. The ways in which the government steps in and encourages people to recover from catastrophe is so incredibly different from what I would expect that it really made me think.

There were no stories in this set that I didn't enjoy. Really good collection
I loved these stories! I mean, in a sort of rather bleak and depressing way, but I felt a strange connection, like, they reminded me of some writings from the small Eastern European country I'm from, which I totally did not expect. I guess it's probably due to the fact that communism is communism everywhere. However, there were also subtle cultural differences as well. I also love these stories as superb pieces of short-storytelling, drawing characters, relationships, circumstances and small (or ...more
May 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I love short story collections because they are the few things I can get through at work. This one features one of my all time favorite short stories (That I actually reread last night!) "After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town". All of Jin's stories are so well written and his sharply observed details are fantastic. The stories range from poignant to hysterical but feel equally weighted. Now, that's amazing. ...more
Jul 19, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, shortstories
I struggled between liked it/really liked it with this one. I have recently developed an infatuation with asian literature and loved the voice of the author in this compliation of short stories. I'm glad I read this and liked most of the stories, but I don't think I'd read most of them again. BUT there were two stories that I did really enjoy that will make it very hard for me to sell/swap/donate this book. ...more
Sep 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shortstories
I very much enjoy Ha Jin's writing. Each particular story held interest for me but my favorites were "The Bridegroom" as well as the final one, "After Cowboy Chicken came to town". The setting is China following the Cultural Revolution up to the end of the 20th Century. The stories are mainly set in the same city. Some are tragic while others are extremely comical. It is a collection I would pick up and read again just to be sure I didn't miss all of the author's nuances. ...more
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Ha Jin is the pen name of Jin Xuefei, 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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