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Errant Pinkies

Robert Macfarlane, 1 June 2000

Waiting 
by Ha Jin.
Heinemann, 308 pp., £10, May 2000, 0 434 00914 8
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... Ha Jin’s Waiting, a love story set in China at the time of the Cultural Revolution, won last year’s US National Book Award for Fiction, and has just received the less munificent, but classier, PEN/Faulkner Award. Dubbed, then, on both shoulders – once by the book-buying public, once by the literati. This is surprising, given that in places the novel is strikingly badly written ...

Such Genteel Flaming!

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘The Boat Rocker’, 13 July 2017

The Boat Rocker 
by Ha Jin.
Pantheon, 222 pp., £20, October 2016, 978 0 307 91162 9
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... There’s​ a strange moment in Ha Jin’s new novel when the narrator, Feng Danlin, an expatriate Chinese journalist writing on culture and politics for an independent news agency based in New York, is asked by one of the organisers of a festival of Chinese culture, held in Berlin, to assess a dozen or so translated novels that have been chosen as representative of modern writing in China ...

White Happy Doves

Nikil Saval: The Real Mo Yan, 29 August 2013

Change 
by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt.
Seagull, 117 pp., £9, October 2012, 978 0 85742 160 9
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Sandalwood Death 
by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt.
Oklahoma, 409 pp., £16, January 2013, 978 0 8061 4339 2
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Pow! 
by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt.
Seagull, 440 pp., £19.50, December 2012, 978 0 85742 076 3
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... Beijing Coma), has been infected with Maospeak. (The only pure writer under this rubric was Ha Jin, who, Link said, ‘writes only in English, in part to be sure that even subconscious influences do not affect his expression’.) Mo Yan’s defenders have long claimed that his political intent can’t be captured by talk of dissidence; nor does he ...

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