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The Bridegroom
by: HA JIN
0434007978 / 9780434007974

Book Description:
In The Bridegroom, a vibrant collection of 12 stories, Ha Jin returns to Muji City, post-Cultural Revolution, where the confusions and excitements of transitions great and small spark off unpredictable consequences. These upheavals are seen through the toings and froings of everyday men and women, arrested on trumped-up charges, applying for larger apartments, waiting to see an old flame, trying to lure a husband and daughter to New York. Sharp comeuppances and the little cruelties on which the world turns--folks made fools of by fate or by other folk--emerge from writing that is deceptively unadorned, unsentimental, as forthright as his wonderfully delineated characters. What marks out these stories is Ha Jin's quiet, sly humour and an unemphatic, but compassionate sense of the absurd. In Alive, after a terrible earthquake, the Form New Families movement urges people to remarry, and at the dour celebration, 21 couples sing out Even My Parents are Not as Dear as the Party and Chairman Mao. In the title story, the homely Beina has managed to carry off Baowen, the handsomest man in the sewing machine factory. And even if she is still a virgin after eight months, I don't have to worry about those shameless bitches in our factory. He doesn't bother to give them a look. He'll never have a lifestyle problem. But his lifestyle problem is his homosexuality in the eyes of those who ensnare him: What a wonderful husband he could have been were he not sick, muses his father-in-law. The hopes and bewilderments of a world in which East increasingly meets West are affectionately turned into small treasures in this fine collection. Ha Jin's novel Waiting won the National Book Award in the United States (the author has lived there since leaving China in 1985) and two earlier collections of short stories also garnered impressive awards and praise. Ruth Petrie

The Bridegroom

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