Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Days of Love...and Lack Thereof, Day 14

The clock's ticking.  I hope Gianna is getting me something really special for Valentine's Day.


Waiting by Ha Jin

Set in China in the early 1960’s, this beautiful novel spans twenty years. Army doctor Lin Kong married the woman his family had arranged for him to marry. She has been a loyal wife, raised their daughter, and cared for his dying parents. But he does not love her; he never has. He loves Manna, and it is she who he dreams of marrying. On a trip home Lin asks his wife Shuyu for a divorce. She agrees but once they reach the courthouse, she refuses. This goes on for years. Lin asks for a divorce, she agrees, but then will not divorce him. All the while he is waiting to marry the love of his life and his dear friend Manna. [Gianna relates to this book because I keep refusing her advances year after year.]

Ha Jin
Finally a changing China passes a law making it legal to divorce a spouse if you have been separated for many years (I think in the book it's something like 18 years), and since he is rarely home due to the army he is granted a divorce.  He is finally done with the waiting and can be happy. I won’t tell you how this National Book Award winning (and Pen/Faulkner winning) story turns out, but it's good.

I highly recommend this novel, and you know what, you actually can’t go wrong with Ha Jin in my opinion; he’s an amazing writer. His best books are Waiting, War Trash (Pulitzer finalist and Pen Faulkner winner), The Bridegroom and A Free Life


Cracks by Sheila Kohler

I admit that I have a fondness for stories set in schools, from Dead Poets Society to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie to Special Topics in Calamity Physics.  I think that the emotional incubator of the classroom amplifies tensions and relationships.  Cracks is one of those books.

Cracks focuses on the specially selected group of girls at a boarding school in South Africa.  They all maneuver for their coach Miss G's favor, but the balance of power shifts when the new girl, Fiamma, arrives at the school.  Decades later, the girls of the swim team return to the school for a fundraising weekend....that is, the girls still alive disappear.  Slowly the story of the one who disappeared begins to unravel.  Girls can be evil.  Excellent.

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