Literary Award Winners Fiction Book Club discussion

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Past Reads > Waiting (Part 3)

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message 1: by Janine (new)

Janine | 100 comments Mod
Please use this thread to discuss Part 3 through to the end of Waiting by Ha Jin.

Irene | 561 comments I just finished this one and enjoyed it. I appreciated the slow evolution of Lin. The translator did an excellent job. I want to read more by this author.

message 3: by George (last edited Jul 10, 2016 06:25AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

George (georgejazz) | 505 comments Mod
Lin is an interesting character who goes through a lot of soul searching, especially towards the end of the novel. The new responsibilities that he has later in life certainly has him questioning whether he is happy with his life choices. Events he didn't necessarily make a decision in have shaped his life. This shows a consistency in his character. He is a passive man. His parents arranged his first marriage. Manna was the instigator to the beginnings of Lin's relationship with her. Lin's a calm, reliable, steady, fairly generous, serious type character.

Irene | 561 comments I don't see Lin as a very nice guy. I think his treatment of Shuyu is despicable. She is also in an arranged marriage. She has been faithful to him. She cared for his parents in their old age, denies herself so she can save his money for him, raises their daughter teaching her to respect her father despite his rejection of Shuyuetc, even offering him her body so he can have a son, but he gives her no care, affection or respect in return. Even at the end, Shuyu continues to treat Lin with the respect the culture says he deserves, obeying his instruction to request permission to move to the city, offering him the best of everything when he visits her small apartment, never saying a bad word against him. Lin and Manna may have been waiting for the divorce so they can marry, but Shuyu was also waiting for Lin to be a husband.

message 5: by George (last edited Jul 10, 2016 06:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

George (georgejazz) | 505 comments Mod
Shuyu is a loyal, caring woman. Lin is not kind to her for all their married life. Lin isn't much of a father to Hua for most of the novel. He gets on well with most of his associates at the hospital in the city. He treats Manna a lot better than he ever treated Shuyu.

Irene | 561 comments He picks the laws he will abide. He violates the rules on fraternizing with Manna, hides books he is supposed to turn in, and so on.

George (georgejazz) | 505 comments Mod
Thanks for your comments Irene. I agree with your points. Overall I didn't mind Lin, notwithstanding that he has some glaring faults.
I have copied and pasted below a couple of paragraphs from a book reviewer that I think makes some interesting observations.

Kenneth Champion, writing in "ThingsAsian" states:
"Lin Kong is trying to make a happier life for himself without stirring up trouble, but he mistakes the proper means. Happiness is not a matter of personal liberty, of getting what you want; Ha Jin seems to suggest that happiness is comfort and custom: the smile of a familiar face, the sharing of a well-cooked meal and drink. In this respect, he favors feudalism, because it preserved families......... Waiting, to its author's credit, has no clear resolution. Lin is as unsatisfied at the end as at the beginning, because the consequences of his selfish choice are less pleasant than those of his enduring sympathy. He founders, as it were, on this double human nature. He is, in the words of the Tao Te Ching, "confused, confused." We cannot help but love him, because so are we all."

Irene | 561 comments Thank you for that bit of a review. I like the perspective it puts on the story.I did feel sympathy for Lin even as I disliked him for his disrespect for his wife and daughter. He came across to me as selfish yet I could understand him. It takes a great author to be able to elicit such a response.

George (georgejazz) | 505 comments Mod
If you like Ha Jin's writing style you will enjoy The Crazed and In The Pond. Both are very good reads. I rate both as 4 star novels. I just finished In The Pond. It is a short novel about a factory fitter who feels wrongly dealt with by the factory bosses. He is an accomplished artist and calligrapher (self taught) and draws a number of satirical cartoons attacking the factory bosses. The bosses make life difficult for him. An interesting view of life in a small Chinese town and the various power plays that occur.

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