TGIF! Here we are again with another Fangirl Friday! This week I’m going to take a break from the usual Fangirl Moment topics and bring you another book post! For today’s post I’ll be covering one of my favorite books, Waiting by Ha Jin!
I originally stumbled upon this book years ago on my high school AP reading list. Back then the prospect of a summer reading list was not very appealing, especially for an AP Literature class.
So, I reluctantly braved the thick Atlanta heat for a trip to my local library, with the dreaded AP reading list in hand. After briefly scanning the list again, I mentally noted the most promising titles and began searching the packed shelves. I emerged with four books: One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Kite Runner, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Waiting. I read all of them, except One Hundred Years of Solitude (I fell asleep on that one multiple times), but the book that left the biggest impression on me was Waiting.
The demands of human longing contend with the weight of centuries of custom in acclaimed author Ha Jin’s Waiting, a novel of unexpected richness and universal resonance. Every summer Lin Kong, a doctor in the Chinese Army, returns to his village to end his loveless marriage with the humble and touchingly loyal Shuyu. But each time Lin must return to the city to tell Manna Wu, the educated, modern nurse he loves, that they will have to postpone their engagement once again. Caught between conflicting claims of these two utterly different women and trapped by a culture in which adultery can ruin lives and careers, Lin has been waiting for eighteen years. This year, he promises, will be different.
-taken from Goodreads
I instantly fell in love with the bittersweet narrative of a deeply flawed man and the two women that love him in spite of his flaws. The novel takes place over a period of 20 years and it was interesting to see the different ways time takes its toll not only on the protagonist Lin Kong, but on those around him. Lin isn’t inherently evil or manipulative, his fatal flaw is that he incapable of making a commitment to anything. Not once during the course of the novel does Lin make a solid commitment to any one person, not his wife and most certainly not to his mistress.
Waiting isn’t just the title, it’s the underlying theme of the story. Throughout the novel each of the three main characters are waiting for something. Shuyu, Lin’s loyal wife in the country has been waiting years for the day her husband reciprocates her feelings. Manna, Lin’s mistress in the city is waiting for Lin to finally divorce his wife so that they can finally be married. While Lin is just waiting for everything to just fall neatly into place.
I wish I could say that by the end of the novel Lin Kong learns to take responsibility for his actions, but that isn’t the case at all. Lin doesn’t have some grand epiphany, he doesn’t learn his lesson, despite gaining everything he “wanted” he still finds himself longing for what he doesn’t have. So, the real tragedy of Waiting is Lin Kong’s lack of self awareness which in turn leaves the events of the novel largely unresolved.
I absolutely love this novel, after reading Waiting I went out and read the rest of Ha Jin’s other collections and novels! So I definitely recommend this book! It’s thought provoking novel about some truly flawed characters, with an important underlying message!
Is there a book that you instantly fell in love with? Do you have any suggestions for Fangirl Moment post? Any burning questions? Want me to review a specific book, film, anime, manga, show, or webcomic? Feel free to Comment on this post or Ask Me on my tumblr! As always Thank You for reading!!!