October 2, 2003 in Books


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I finished reading Waiting by Ha Jin which is filled with lots of irony and subtlety. It’s the story of a Chinese officer (circa 1968) who wants to divorce his wife to marry another woman he meets while working at a military hospital. Each year he goes back to his native village and with his wife goes down to the courthouse to try and get the divorce. However, each year his claim gets rejected. Divorce during Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution was frowned upon. Finally after 18 years, he is allowed to divorce. He immediately then marries the woman who has been waiting for him all these years. What he discovered during this second marriage is that he really doesn’t understand the meaning of love. Also, this second marriage with new children may not be what he really wants. In the end, we see him longing for the first wife whom he abandoned so many years ago and he starts to think that maybe his parents didn’t do such a bad job of arranging his first marriage. Such a simple love story told with eloquent prose that further confirms what we already know, “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

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