Ha Jin’s award winning novel “Waiting” tells what life was all about in Communist China during the 60s and 70s.
It was about waiting. The hero of the novel is an army doctor who has been forced into an arranged marriage to an illiterate peasant. When he falls in love with a young nurse, he spends 17 years suppressing his passion and waiting obediently for his wife to grant him a divorce.
In surrendering to Party rules, the doctor and his girlfriend settle into a life stripped of the love, surprise, and companionship that might have been theirs.
As a writer, Ha Jin isn’t waiting anymore; he has arrived. After 15 years in America, he still struggles to speak English, but his prose on paper is being compared to the best of Henry James.
Ha Jin’s literary inspiration includes Tolstoy and Chekhov, and his own writing evokes their timelessness. The deepest writing, he says, isn’t about pop culture or the moment; it’s about putting the human heart onto paper.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)