Review

The Bridegroom: Stories

by Ha Jin

Read an Excerpt



After winning both the 1999 National Book Award and the 2000
PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his last book, WAITING, Ha Jin
returns with a collection of 12 stories encompassing very personal
dramas involving Chinese citizens in contemporary China. THE
BRIDEGROOM considers the difficult transitions with which Chinese
men and women are faced as the influence of Western society changes
the traditionally Eastern world they have lived in for so
long.

These stories are not quite as moving and impassioned as the
marriage story around which WAITING concentrated. However,
"Saboteur," the opening tale, is a frightening story of how a
young, newly married couple finds their everyday lives at the beck
and call of a corrupt political system. The title story, "The
Bridegroom," concerns a gay man who takes a bride as a fence
against the prejudices of Chinese society. Every one of these
pieces pits good citizens against the evil empire's minions, the
police, and other security officials who make up as they go along
the rules of the new society. Ha Jin left his native land for the
United States in 1985 and he clearly hasn't come to terms with the
outrageous disrespect for humanity and human rights that is
apparently the law of the land in this transitional phase of a
confused but still mighty nation.

Jin is an interesting writer in that he doesn't try to contain his
vitriol against the system that forced him out of the country
before the unsuccessful student rebellion and the massacre of
Tiananmen Square. In his own way, he continues the rebelliousness
of his country folk by writing about the horrors of life in
contemporary China while living in exile in a free society.
However, the direct and emotional nature with which he writes about
these situations makes up for the two-dimensional victims that
populate these stories. As an American who has only known the
freedom of protesting too much, I found THE BRIDEGROOM to be an
obvious although compelling paean to the twisted desires of
maintaining what is good about one's tradition while changing what
doesn't fit in this time period anymore.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 21, 2011

The Bridegroom: Stories
by Ha Jin

  • Publication Date: September 11, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0375724931
  • ISBN-13: 9780375724930