The bridegroom : stories

by Ha Jin

Paper Book, 2000




New York : Pantheon Books, 2000.


From the remarkable Ha Jin, winner of the National Book Award for his celebrated novel Waiting, a collection of comical and deeply moving tales of contemporary China that are as warm and human as they are surprising, disturbing, and delightful. In the title story, the head of security at a factory is shocked, first when the hansomest worker on the floor proposes marriage to his homely adopted daughter, and again when his new son-in-law is arrested for the "crime" of homosexuality. In "After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town," the workers at an American-style fast food franchise receive a hilarious crash course in marketing, deep frying, and that frustrating capitalist dictum, "the customer is always right."Ha Jin has triumphed again with his unforgettable storytelling in The Bridegroom.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member thatbooksmell
Ha Jin has the amazing ability to tell a story in the way that the people in Communist China seem to live. His descriptions appear tightly controlled, and there is a heaviness and suppression in his telling that give us a glimpse of what it must be like to live in such a society. As I read these
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short stories, I feel, along with the characters, the subtle clenching fear of being found out, of being seen as different from what is acceptable to the collective whole that is permissible in Chinese life.

It's hard to describe how I feel after reading something by Ha Jin except to say that I'm moved with melancholy--I love his work but want to run outside screaming at the top of my lungs afterwards...simply because I can.
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LibraryThing member helka
In 'The Bridegroom' the twelve stories capture a China in transition, moving from Maoism towards a more open society. Men and women are starting to feel the influance of the West, but the communist system still controls their every move and thought which makes the stories painful.

Ha Jin celebrates
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his characters' lives and humanity with simplicity, from an enterpreneur transformed from black market criminal to free market hero, to the homosexuals jailed because of their 'illness'. Brilliantly, Ha Jin arranges the different stories around one theme: all the short stories are related to past or future weddings somehow and the tension of the short stories lies in the bridegrooms.

What I found amazing about this book was that I still was not able to stop thinking about the stories after I finished it. The practices of the Chinese political system weigh you down, and while you feel sorry for the friendly Chinese citizens, you are also glad that you are not led by such a political system.

I am convinced that 'The Bridegroom' has everything a good book calls for; it makes you think, once you start you can't finish it, and last but not least the short stories are likely to break your heart.
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LibraryThing member apartmentcarpet
Ha Jin writes spare prose about a China that is rapidly changing. His stories always deal with loss and disappointment, and that makes them hard to read at times. Although I was interested enough to finish, I didn't find much that I liked.
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
"A Tiger-Fighter is Hard To Find"
It all starts with a letter from the governor's office, praising a television series about a tiger killer. The show is a good example of a hero but there is one tiny flaw - the tiger doesn't look realistic enough. If they can solve that dilemma their series might be
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chosen to compete for a national prize. The solution? The hero should battle a real tiger, a real Siberian caught in the mountains. Told from the point of the lowly set clerk who has the responsibility of making each take look like the last, he is witness to the obsession which dominates cast and crew behavior once the idea of competing for a national prize sets in. They go to great lengths to secure the tiger and even greater lengths to find someone to "kill" the tiger. It is a devastating story.

"After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town"
A sad story about an American chain restaurant in China - a culinary culture clash. Five restaurant employees are confused by their Americanized friend. He used to be one of them until he went to America and came back with a changed name and a new attitude. As their resentment towards him grows the five friends set up to sabotage the restaurant only to have their plan backfire horribly.

In both stories the major theme is a loss of control and the lengths people will go to to get it back.
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LibraryThing member kerns222
Lives scrambled by the new capitalism, by the old communist puritanic streaks, by relatives, by coworkers. With a little Mao sauce on top.


Asian American Literary Award (Winner — Fiction — 2001)
Townsend Prize for Fiction (Winner — Fiction — 2002)


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