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Extended Audio Sample Waiting, by Ha Jin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (9,864 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ha Jin Narrator: Dick Hill Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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This is the story of Lin Kong, a man living in two worlds, struggling with the conflicting claims of two utterly different women as he moves through the political minefields of society designed to regulate his every move and stifle the promptings of his innermost heart. 

For more than seventeen years, this devoted and ambitious doctor has been in love with an educated, clever, modern woman, Manna Wu. But back in the traditional world of his home village lives the wife his family chose for him when he was young—a humble and touchingly loyal woman, whom he visits in order to ask, again and again, for a divorce. 

In a culture in which the ancient ties of tradition and family still hold sway and where adultery discovered by the Party can ruin lives forever, Lin’s passionate love is stretched ever more taut by the passing years. Every summer, his compliant wife agrees to a divorce but then backs out. This time, Lin promises, will be different. 

Tracing these lives through their summer of decision and beyond, Ha Jin vividly conjures the texture of daily life in a place where the demand of human longing must contend with the weight of centuries of custom. Waiting charms and startles us with its depiction of a China that remains hidden to Western eyes even as it moves us with its piercing vision of the universal complications of love.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Luminous…Eloquent…[Waiting] provides…a crash course in Chinese society during and since the Cultural Revolution, and a more leisurely but nonetheless compelling exploration of the less exotic terrain that is the human heart.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A vivid bit of storytelling, fluid and earthy…Reminiscent of Hemingway in its scope, simplicity, and precise language…A graceful human allegory.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • “Achingly beautiful…Ha Jin depicts the details of social etiquette, of food, of rural family relationships and the complex yet alarmingly primitive fabric of provincial life with that absorbed passion for minutiae characteristic of Dickens and Balzac.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “Subtle and complex…His best work to date. A moving meditation on the effects of time upon love.”

    Washington Post

  • “Remarkable…Compellingly ingenious…Gorgeously cinematic.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “A wry, lovely novel…Unexpectedly moving…So quietly and carefully told that…we read on patiently, pleasantly distracted, wondering when something will happen. Only when we’ve finished do we understand just how much has, and how much waiting can be its own painful reward.”


  • “A subtle beauty…A sad, poignantly funny tale.”

    Boston Sunday Globe

  • “Impeccably deadpan…A deliciously comic novel.”


  • “A wonderfully ironic novel…Complex and sad as life…It captures the difficulties of love in totalitarian China with sharp prose and a convincing portrayal of human vagaries.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

  • “[Jin] reveals some startlingly original insights on human life and love…in a narrative that dazzles…with its simplicity and grace.”

    Providence Sunday Journal

  • “[Waiting is] a masterpiece of realism and a work of ironic allegory…Through an accumulation of small, deft brushstrokes, twentieth century China is superimposed onto the landscape of an ancient, painted scroll.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Enlightening…A delicate rendering of the universal complications of love…Ha Jin’s natural storytelling quietly captures the texture of daily life in a dual Chinese culture…No detail is extraneous in this sad, funny, and often wise novel.”

    Village Voice

  • Winner of the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award
  • A 2000 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Fiction
  • Winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Fiction
  • A 1999 Time Magazine Best Book for Fiction
  • An ALA Notable Book Finalist for Fiction
  • A 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jenny | 2/16/2014

    " This was a sad, sad story. It rang true in a way that I'm not ready to process yet. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by kelli | 2/6/2014

    " Every fiber in my being rebels against the choices made by the characters in this book and maybe that's why I liked it so much. The main characters are a Chinese couple trying to create and maintain a relationship through China's Cultural Revolution and its aftermath. It spans 20 years of the couple's relationship. The major stumbling block to the relationship is the Chinese government and two protagonists who have a difficult time taking bold action. It seems their timing is always wrong - especially since they met when one of them was already married. The other oddity of the book is that even though the main characters were a doctor and a nurse, they never really discuss this aspect of their lives. Their job seems to be attending lectures on the Communist system, joining groups to glorify the Party, and avoiding the landmines of living in a centralized military system. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Katie O'Connell | 2/5/2014

    " I had trouble rating this book because part of me hated it because it was so agonizing. But, I kind of think that was the point, so I wanted to give it a pretty high rating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Izzy | 2/4/2014

    " This is better as a completed book than as a reading experience. The plot moves slowly, though it's swaddled in lots of lovely prose, and it's not until the end that it starts to feel like anything actually happened. "

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