Identity In Ha Jins Saboteur

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Identity In Ha Jins Saboteur



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The Bridegroom by Ha Jin. Reversals, transformations, and surprises abound in these assured stories. Parables for our times--with a hint of the reckless and the absurd that we have come to expect from Ha Jin--The Bridegroom offers tales both mischievous and wise. From the National Book Award-winning author of Waiting, a new collection of short fiction that confirms Ha Jin's reputation as a master st Reversals, transformations, and surprises abound in these assured stories. From the National Book Award-winning author of Waiting, a new collection of short fiction that confirms Ha Jin's reputation as a master storyteller. It is a world both exotic and disarmingly familiar, one in which Chinese men and women meet with small epiphanies and muted triumphs, leavening their lives of quiet desperation through subtle insubordination and sometimes crafty resolve.

In the title story, a seemingly model husband joins a secret men's literary club and finds himself arrested for the "bourgeois crime" of homosexuality. In "A Tiger-Fighter Is Hard to Find," a television crew's inept attempt to film a fight scene with a live Siberian tiger lands their lead actor in a mental hospital, convinced that he is the mythical tiger-fighter Wu Song. Reversals, transformations, and surprises abound in these assured stories, as Ha Jin seizes on the possibility that things might not be as they seem. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published September 11th by Vintage first published October 3rd More Details Original Title.

Townsend Prize for Fiction Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Bridegroom , please sign up. What especially did you like about the book? See 1 question about The Bridegroom…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Bridegroom.

This is a collection of short stories published in , but some of the individual stories date from as early as They are typically set in an emerging China - post Cultural Revolution, but not too long after, as Western ideas make their way in. They are a hit and miss collection, mostly revolving around personal relationships in China -many of which deal with what are probably not only Chinese problems, but they are in this book - government intervention, a reliance of the traditional stru This is a collection of short stories published in , but some of the individual stories date from as early as They are a hit and miss collection, mostly revolving around personal relationships in China -many of which deal with what are probably not only Chinese problems, but they are in this book - government intervention, a reliance of the traditional structures of society, unhappy relationships and financial problems.

Transition from a socialist society to a capitalist society, brings about a complex confusion and a raft of inconsistencies that must be negotiated for many of the various characters, as well as Western ideas being introduced to Chinese society - in some cases in general, but in other cases by individuals who have lived overseas returning to China. Some of the stories didn't make a lot of sense to me - one example was the first story. A man eating in a cafe has tea thrown on him by a policeman, for no reason. When he objects, he is arrested and charged with being a saboteur, and forced to sign a statement confirming this. Upon his release he buys lots of meals from a range of restaurants, eats a little from each plate and leaves - which results in a hepatitis epidemic in the town.

I don;t really follow the logic here There are stories of revenge; stories of unrequited love; where money changes the situation for the protagonist; homosexuals covering up in hetro relationships; a man with amnesia who forgets he has a family; and others. I probably didn't enjoy these as much as other reviewers. View 2 comments. Feb 17, Chinoiseries rated it liked it Shelves: , literary-fiction , china , short-stories , given-away.

Before I share my thoughts on this book, I would like you to consider this bit of history: Mao Zedong died in and the decade-long Cultural Revolution - that shook up China and led to the persecution and death of many Chinese - ended with his demise and with the arrest and eventual conviction of the Gang of Four which includes Mao's wife. In , Deng Xiaoping, a Party member who fell out of favour with Mao, won the power struggle within the CCP and it was he who introduced capitalism-ins Before I share my thoughts on this book, I would like you to consider this bit of history: Mao Zedong died in and the decade-long Cultural Revolution - that shook up China and led to the persecution and death of many Chinese - ended with his demise and with the arrest and eventual conviction of the Gang of Four which includes Mao's wife.

In , Deng Xiaoping, a Party member who fell out of favour with Mao, won the power struggle within the CCP and it was he who introduced capitalism-inspired economic reform to China. Now imagine living in these turbulent times, an era in between a planned economy, State-Owned Enterprises with secure, designated jobs and housing units, and strict Party control It must have been scary to live during these insecure years, not knowing where the country is headed. To highlight the feelings of this period, Ha Jin infuses his very short stories with irony and sarcasm. So, did I like the book? Unfortunately, not as much as I had expected. It has got to be one of the most frustrating books I have read this year. Humiliation, petty behaviour, injustice and unsatisfying endings galore in The bridegroom: stories.

It's from this point onwards that the story escalates. Strangely enough, there seems to be no reason at all for the incident. Throughout the story, the focus is on the dire predicament of poor ill and mistreated Mr. Chiu; not even his own lawyer can assure that justice is done. In the end, Mr. Chiu has to admit his defeat and sign a false statement that it was indeed he who disrupted public order. His revenge is sweet however: by eating at several small food stalls, he succeeds in unleashing a hepatitis epidemic in Muji. In the first story, a rejected suitor returns after many years only to humiliate his former love interest. In the latter, cultural clashes between American, Japanese and Chinese culture lead to the Chinese staff being fired.

The story ends with the angry laid off workers plotting sabotage. In many stories social control, both informal and formal, is apparent. Love is seen as something that may or may not grow after marriage. Most important is making a suitable match and producing children. A few of the stories can appear preposterous to the Western ised mind.

A Bad Joke is a good example: it's about two peasants who are misfortunate enough to have a casual remark not only misinterpreted, but completely blown out of proportion. A comment like that would most likely be disregarded in current-day China, but in the uncertain period they lived in, it guaranteed a prison sentence or a severe punishment at the least. It's not so much that I disliked the book, but I did feel disappointed by the brevity of Ha Jin's stories.

They felt unfinished and I would even go as far to say that some of them seemed underdeveloped. I short, I really would have preferred Ha Jin to elaborate on one or more instead of these twelve short snippets about people in Muji city. For example: In the Kindergarten features a little girl wanting to help her teacher gather more purslane. She and the other children have been promised a little extra for dinner, but instead, the teacher takes the leafy vegetable home. I kept wondering why. Perhaps to supplement her own meals? Or to earn a little extra on the side, by selling it as TCM?

The ending of this story is particularly unexpected and strange. Finally, I would like to emphasise that the setting of this book is the early s, not contemporary China. Many changes have taken place in the past 30 years and modern-day mainland China is a very different place than the country described in Ha Jin's book. Many State-Owned Enterprises have proven not to be viable in a thriving market economy, leading to massive unemployment and the encouragement of entrepreneurship something that has not been around for very long, as The Entrepreneur demonstrates.

If a Cowboy Chicken fast-food restaurant would open nowadays, people would not complain that it's not as good as traditional Chinese food, but open up shanzhai restaurants next door instead. Informal social control can never be truly eradicated, but entire subcultures have sprung up in the past decades: individuality is no longer frowned upon. The strength of his story collection is its poignancy and cruelty, wrapped in dark humour. He has successfully captured the essence of the period. A good effort, but because of reasons mentioned above ultimately not as good as I had hoped. View 1 comment. I read this for school. Jun 29, Sterlingcindysu rated it really liked it. Short stories that take place in China after the Culture Revolution.

I don't know exactly what that was but I'd say they take place in the s and s. Most had to do about learning English and attending school which I'm guessing was Ha Jin's wheelhouse. Easy to read, sometimes funny and makes you realize how alike everyone is in wanting to get revenge, put their best foot forward for an old beau, not knowing what's behind a marriage and protesting against "the man" even when that's just y Short stories that take place in China after the Culture Revolution. Easy to read, sometimes funny and makes you realize how alike everyone is in wanting to get revenge, put their best foot forward for an old beau, not knowing what's behind a marriage and protesting against "the man" even when that's just your manager.

Apr 03, Rebecca rated it really liked it. This is a collection of short stories. The first one was quite a surprise ending. All of them bring out the stark cultural differences between Western and Eastern culture and politics. I especially liked the story called Cowboy Chicken. Another surprise ending. Jun 10, Mobyskine rated it really liked it. My first of Ha Jin. It was written well-- not draggy with fascinating narratives, love Ha Jin's style of writing. Point of stories were sometimes just about a daily life of the characters but it been given a smooth and prop My first of Ha Jin. Point of stories were sometimes just about a daily life of the characters but it been given a smooth and proper plot, a very sharp insight making it a bit interesting.

Having few as my personal favorite-- Saboteur sort of a revenge story but was written in a very unexpected situation , Alive a story about a man losing his memory after an earthquake and having a new life without realizing he was actually a man with family. Very comical, sometimes a bit sarcasm, inspiring but none predictable. Sep 10, Nicole rated it it was amazing Shelves: bookcrossed. The Bridegroom is a series of 12 stories taking place in and around China's Muji City. Author Ha Jin's structure is clear and simple, but he says so much in these sentences readers may find themselves re-evaluating their own style.

The titular story, "The Bridegroom" is also haunting--detailing a man's plight with his son in law's ho The Bridegroom is a series of 12 stories taking place in and around China's Muji City. The titular story, "The Bridegroom" is also haunting--detailing a man's plight with his son in law's homosexuality. Going so far as to institutionalize the man, the narrator finds out more about his daughter and his own life than he ever thought possible. I think there are some similar authors on your wishlist Feb 02, Melanie rated it it was amazing Shelves: china-korea-japan.

Wow- this is the best Ha Jin I've read yet- my favorite stories were "Alive" and "Broken"- they were so haunting, and really stuck with me. I couldn't stop thinking about them. It really highlights some major cultural differences in terms of Chinese vs. American ways of operating a business, or just communicating and behaving in general. Though these were my favorites, every single story in this book is captivating and worth Wow- this is the best Ha Jin I've read yet- my favorite stories were "Alive" and "Broken"- they were so haunting, and really stuck with me. Though these were my favorites, every single story in this book is captivating and worth reading.

May 25, Emma rated it liked it. Short stories, set in modern day China. It's a nice cross-section of different lives in a different culture. Interesting, moving and entertaining writing. Dec 01, Highlyeccentric rated it liked it Shelves: fiction-for-fun , short-stories , intranslation. I actually didn't finish this collection. It was very well-written, no doubt about that, but I found its appeal very For instance, the longest and most-acclaimed story, concerning efforts by a regional Chinese TV company to stage a tiger fight with a real tiger and the hilarious fall-out that ensues didn't grab me at all.

The collection had many things I like in short stories: domestic detail, a knack for indicating cultural particularities while conveying that they are to be taken I actually didn't finish this collection. The collection had many things I like in short stories: domestic detail, a knack for indicating cultural particularities while conveying that they are to be taken for granted and not exotic at all. Initially I was annoyed by the overwhelming masculine focus of the first half of the collection - particularly in the case of the title story, The Bridegroom, I thought the choice of the father-in-law's POV for a story about a successful young husband arrested for homosexual behaviour was The wife, who seemed perfectly happy to have married him, or the mother-in-law, who seemed to think her daughter had done well in securing a husband who made no onerous sexual demands, would have made more interesting POV narrators to me.

The gender imbalance did improve in the second half of the book. I particularly enjoyed the story, told through a child's eyes, of the kindergarten teacher who enlisted children to harvest fresh vegetables, but said vegetables never made it to the table because the teacher was the reader deduces using them to pay or bribe a doctor for her abortion. In terms of form, I particularly enjoyed the story of a poet and academic who crashed and burned out of his job - told in the form of a letter of reference to a new prospective employer of said academic, written by a former student now holding a teaching post.

The complexity of the student-teacher relationship, the student's growing disillusionment with his mentor, and the damning-with-faint-praise format of reference were all gorgeously rendered. Mar 15, Deepashri Chavan rated it really liked it. Short and simple 12 stories. Feb 22, Naomi Rae rated it really liked it. Jul 28, Ben added it. I don't know why I didn't have anything to say about this book when I first read and shared it here, though what I can say is that it most certainly played a significant influence in the shaping of The New York Stories and the now refreshed and soon to be re-released UPSTATE.

Aug 17, Crowei rated it it was ok. Completely forgot that I was even reading this. Enjoyed some of the stories, couldn't get through others quick enough Completely forgot that I was even reading this. Enjoyed some of the stories, couldn't get through others quick enough Oct 14, Tresa Casaletto rated it really liked it. A collection of very well written, depressing short stories about life in China in the 's, 80's and 90's.

Apr 23, Sarah Vezeau rated it liked it. To be sure, Ha Jin addresses the cases of these two writers as a way of referring to his own situation. Paula E. If we consider the monolingual use of a language as a norm, we would indeed accept that any digressions challenging that norm are to be regarded as imperfections or failures, and hence highly censorable transgressions of the rules of the language. In the case of Ha Jin, the transfer produced from his mother tongue Chinese into his fiction yields a hybrid linguistic form whose grammatical nature clearly differs from that of standard English. The adoption of English, as he has said, resides in his own survival as a writer, whereas the hybrid character of his writing becomes a distinctive trait that pervades his fictional works which have China as their cultural setting.

It has been considered to be among his finest stories and probably the best rendering of a faithful representation of Chinese tradition, language and culture. However, throughout the narrative there are many oblique references to the spread of dogmatic ideals in the New China and the blowing away of customs and traditions from Old China. During those years, newspapers published politically-loaded articles praising the figure of Mao Zedong and his achievements. His death in ushered in a period characterized by an outward-searching mentality during which the country opened up to Western influences. With his mother on her deathbed, Ding Liang promises her that he will never allow her body to be cremated, even though he is aware that the authorities encouraged cremation not only as a proof of loyalty to the party and to the country, but also as a way of preserving arable land for future generations The key element in the story is the dilemma which Ding must face once his mother passes away: ground burying her implies not only respecting her last will, but also abiding by the Confucian ideal of venerating ancestors.

Cremation, on the other hand, stands for modernity and the fulfillment of Maoist laws aimed at creating the New China. As Paula E. Ha Jin, who lived during those years in Liaoning, witnessed at first hand the systematic cultural annihilation and the great upheaval caused by the Red Guards, as his fiction attests. Dismount Fort, the small commune in rural China where the story is set, is made up of peasants and villagers who maintain a set of old-time superstitions and religious beliefs deeply embedded in their mentality and everyday life.

As a practitioner of translation literature, Ha Jin bridges any cultural misunderstandings that his readership might incur by having a narrator or character provide further explanations on a specific situation. Your grandma was a blessed woman. This passage alludes to a Chinese superstitious tradition handed down from generation to generation. Cutting a piece of the quilt that covered the corpse of an aged person was believed to bring good luck and protection against illnesses. Although falling into abeyance, it can still be seen in rural areas of China today, 10 This fact had also been pointed out by Nancy Tsai Although angels are holy creatures associated with Western Christianity, Ha Jin opted to choose such a religious symbol to make this passage culturally more digestible and understandable to his readership.

Finally, superstition is also seen when the dead woman is cremated. Chinese traditions have always shown a profound respect toward ancestors. Dismount Fort villagers imbued with a world of religious superstitions and fanaticism, believed that body cremation would affect their lives negatively. In this regard, Paula E. As such, place names and proper names are lexical markers loaded with cultural meaning. As Hang Zhang suggests, the use of proper names in Ha Jin is subtle but powerful, helping to provide cultural authenticity and historical accuracy to the narration These terms coexist with new ones—Harvest Fertilizer Plant and Commune Guest House—products of the new times in which the economy had been propelled forward by the Great Leap Forward.

Nativization of Contexts: Terms of Uniquely Chinese Reference Hang Zhang includes in this category lexical items which are loan-translations from Chinese. Though still used in modern Chinese, these words and expressions were widely used during the years of the Cultural Revolution Pride and Liu Ru-Shan have noted, it holds a respectable and favorable meaning In this sense, propaganda in newspapers is a powerful weapon in winning the favorable opinion of readers, and thus is seen as being of cardinal importance.

This politically-loaded expression denotes those individuals who prefer to remain waiting for the right opportunity and avoid taking sides. Sometimes, that person might decide to take both sides in a dispute so as to create a rift between the two contending parties. These expressions may sometimes be rendered literally, while at other times, the author himself adapts them to make them a bit more digestible to English ears. Readers unfamiliar with Asian cultures may regard those similes and metaphors as exotic touches used by the author to produce effects of strangeness or remoteness. In this case, the leaves falling from the tree and withering on the soil will eventually become nutritious fertilizer.

The expression is also applicable to the emigrant or expatriate who returns home after a long stay abroad, indicating that all things return to where they belonged. Ha Jin thus succeeds in transforming a Chinese calque that might have sounded rather awkward to English ears and provides a more understandable and Westernized version of it. Yang was not on good terms with Ding and the narrator warns us that he would do whatever was in his power to make Ding fall.

When the meeting ends, Ding is stopped by his men on his way home and warned about the trap set by Yang and his men: as soon as Ding buries his mother, they will inform the Party and put him in trouble. In all probability, this is 14 Ha Jin accounts for the use and adaptation of Chinese idioms and calques in that his characters speak Mandarin in a Chinese society. The transfer made by Ha Jin yields an adaptation to English in which the author prefers to offer a religious simile instead of referring to the idea of a fence being hoisted by three stakes, which may have sounded odd to Western readers.

In Ha Jin, metaphors serve not only to set up a connection between two distant ideas but also to bridge two culturally distant concepts. This phrase, uttered by Ding as a curse, reveals the importance of religion in Eastern cultures. This remark, however, applies to phrases or idioms that are subject to be rendered almost literally in English. Thus, the narrators of his stories tend not to comment on cultural or historical aspects. It is up to the reader to respond actively to such gaps and provide the missing information. There seems to be a historical reference here dating back to the Second Sino-Japanese wars At this time, China imported weapons and ammunition from different European countries—mainly Czechoslovakia, Belgium, France and England—which made it impossible to have a unified system of weaponry.

Thus, China fought this war with weapons of different calibers, preventing its armies from combining and sharing ammunition stocks. Nativization of Rhetorical Strategies: Translation or Transcreation of Proverbs and Idioms Kachru includes in this category curses and abuses, blessings and flatterings, modes of address and reference, and proverbs and idioms. Whatever I do, they want to do me in. As Koshin Paley Ellison has pointed out, in the majority of Western societies aging is stigmatized and the fear of aging and death prevent people from living full lives. On the contrary, the elderly are highly respected in Eastern societies.

Similarly, Chinese people like to be addressed by their occupation or title together with their surnames. Pride and Liu Ru-Shan provide a list of social occupations that can be used to address people together with their surnames Proverbs and idioms. The antiquity of the Chinese language has also made it one of the most elegant and richest languages in the world, as the many proverbs and idioms therein attest. Through his fiction Ha Jin transfers to his Chinese English some of this rich Chinese cultural background and information. This is an idiom that needs no translation as English readers understand perfectly that Yang wants Ding to fall into disgrace so that Party authorities will eventually remove him from the position as chairman.

When at last Liang Ding and his men make a stand against Secretary Yang, they reverse the situation after sending a different version of the burial to county newspapers. By having refused while she was alive to have a ground-burial for herself, she was giving an opportunity for future generations to have clean soil for growing vegetables. What he does challenges the accepted monolingual understanding of what standard English is.

In a globalized world, English cannot be viewed exclusively from monolingual and Judeo-Christian perspectives, but rather from different angles. I would like to conclude by turning to the words of the Australian art critic and writer Robert Hughes, who lived in the U. When he looked at the U. London: Routledge, Bhatt, Rakesh M. Bricklebank, Peter. Cheng, Chin-Chuan. Urbana: U of Illinois P, Chow, Rey. The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

By Chow. New York: Columbia UP, Crystal, David. English as a Global Language. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, London: Penguin, Fay, Sarah. Geyh, Paula E. Fourth Series. Patrick Meanor and Joseph McNicholas. Detroit: Thomson Gale, GoGwilt, Chris, and Ha Jin. New York, 14 Jan. Gong, Haomin. Englishes: Studies in Varieties of English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, Gregoire, Carolyn.

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