Ha Jin's first novel since Waiting offers a riveting and deftly executed expose of the troubles of contemporary China, set against the background of political unrest at Tiananmen Square. In his powerful new novel, the author of Waiting deepens his portrait of Chinese society while exploring the perennial conflicts between convention and ...
Ha Jin's first novel since Waiting offers a riveting and deftly executed expose of the troubles of contemporary China, set against the background of political unrest at Tiananmen Square. In his powerful new novel, the author of Waiting deepens his portrait of Chinese society while exploring the perennial conflicts between convention and individualism, integrity and pragmatism, loyalty and betrayal. Professor Yang, a respected teacher of literature at a provincial university, has had a stroke, and his student Jian Wan - who is also engaged to Yang's daughter - has been assigned to care for him. What initially seems a simple if burdensome duty becomes more problematic when the professor begins to rave: pleading with invisible tormentors, denouncing his family, his colleagues, and a system in which a scholar is 'just a piece of meat on a cutting board.' Are these just manifestations of illness, or is Yang spewing up the truth? In a China convulsed by the Tiananmen uprising, those who listen to the truth are as much at risk as those who speak it. At once nuanced and fierce, earthy and humane, The Crazed is further evidence of Ha Jin's prodigious narrative gifts.
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-09-30 On the day after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, Jian Wan, the narrator of Ha Jin's powerful new novel, comes upon two weeping students. "I'm going to write a novel to fix all the fascists on the page," says one of them. The other responds, "yes... we must nail them to the pillory of history." Ha's novel is written in the conviction that writers don't nail anyone to anything: at best, they escape nailing themselves. Jian is a graduate student in literature at provincial Shanning University. In the spring of 1989, his adviser, Professor Yang, suffers a stroke, and Jian listens as the bedridden Yang raves about his past. Yang's bitterness about his life under the yoke of the Communist Party infects Jian, who decides to withdraw from school. His fiance Professor Yang's daughter, Meimei breaks off their engagement in disgust, but Jian is heartened by a trip into the countryside, after which he decides that he will devote himself to helping the province's impoverished peasants. His plan is to become a provincial official, but the Machiavellian maneuverings of the Party secretary of the literature department a sort of petty Madame Mao cheat him of this dream, sending him off on a hapless trip to Beijing and Tiananmen Square. Despite this final quixotic adventure, Ha's story is permeated by a grief that won't be eased or transmuted by heroic images of resistance. Jian settles for shrewd, small rebellions, to prevent himself from becoming "just a piece of meat on a chopping board." Like Gao Xingjian, Ha continues to refine his understanding of politics as an unmitigated curse. (Oct. 22) Forecast: Arguably more accessible than Waiting, which won a National Book Award, The Crazed should bolster Ha Jin's reputation as the premier novelist of the Chinese diaspora. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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