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The Bridegroom

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,719 Ratings  ·  162 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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Community Reviews

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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
May 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Deepashri Chavan
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short and simple 12 stories. great travel time read.
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
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, simple stories that open a window to post-revolutionary industrial China. The new China is a strange combination of East and West. Ha Jin somehow captures the possibilities and improbabilities of a country that has removed economic barriers on one hand, and is slow to move beyond repressive social customs on another. Interesting and insightful, a spare, short story master.
Calvin Johnson
The first six stories in this collection were fantastic. The first, 'Saboteur', was my favorite, while 'The Bridegroom' was a close second. The last six wholeheartedly disappointed me, and were very dry, and felt quite incomplete.
Janelle Hammonds
I was so excited when I picked up this books, the idea of hearing different stories but most of the stories didn't click for me.
Nasreen Seria
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short, sharp narratives. Stunning characters.
Norhan AlHawary
Loved his was of portraying details, he showed us a glimpse of China, they are short stories but i was eager to know a definite ending to some of them.
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
Charles Kerns
Lives scrambled by the new capitalism, by the old communist puritanic streaks, by relatives, by coworkers. With a little Mao sauce on top.
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My initial reaction after reading the first three stories was one of confusion as the stories always seemed to end abruptly without a point made, or an obvious insight, or even an ironic twist. They seemed, like the few other Chinese writers' stories I have read, to be mostly a picture of a slice of Chinese life. Still, I found the stories engaging once I had dropped the search for deeper meaning - Ha Jin writes well. And they gave insight into the Chinese (and Chinese Communist) culture and how ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm definitely a huge fan of Ha Jin's writing - their dreamy but deadpan writing style easily transported me to 1970s-1980s China. I do have a personal interest in the subject (due to having a parent who moved away from China after the cultural revolution) but I still think this book is enjoyable for anyone with even a slight interest in China's history.

Many aspects of every day life are covered, as well as topics like jealousy, racism, sexism, the treatment of homosexuals, and slut shaming.

Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful collection of short stories set in modern-day China about the lives of ordinary people in Muji city. Ha Jin's writing is beautiful, honest and subtly-political. His stories cover a wide range of issues such as gender, post-colonialism, capitalism and communism, and family. I felt the quote in the book, "Although the sparrow is small, it has a complete set of organs," resonates with Ha Jin's writing as his short stories are filled with rich characters and compelling stories and themes ...more
Astrid Reza
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-book-shelf
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."

Lucile Barker
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Y. L
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'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
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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