Reading this book one is reminded of the old Hemingway saw about how fiction should only give away the tip of the iceberg. The graceful, simple prose of this book reveals just the smallest portion of the complex emotional and politcal currents that run beneath this story. This is the kind of book that, once you have finished, you cannot get out of your head. The book jacket calls Ha Jin a "sturdy realist," but that's not really right; his prose has much more in common with a modernist minimalism. A must read for anyone who thinks that fiction writing in America is moribund.