About this Item
Quantity Available: 1
Title: The Crazed
Publication Date: 2004
Book Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: 1st Edition
About this title
A New York Times Notable Book
A Washington Post, Los Angeles times, and San Jose Mercury News Best Book of the Year
Ha Jin’s seismically powerful new novel is at once an unblinking look into the bell jar of communist Chinese society and a portrait of the eternal compromises and deceptions of the human state. When the venerable professor Yang, a teacher of literature at a provincial university, has a stroke, his student Jian Wan is assigned to care for him. Since the dutiful Jian plans to marry his mentor’s beautiful, icy daughter, the job requires delicacy. Just how much delicacy becomes clear when Yang begins to rave.
Are these just the outpourings of a broken mind, or is Yang speaking the truth—about his family, his colleagues, and his life’s work? And will bearing witness to the truth end up breaking poor Jian’s heart? Combining warmth and intimacy with an unsparing social vision, The Crazed is Ha Jin’s most enthralling book to date.
Set during the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989, The Crazed, a novel from Ha Jin, the award-winning author of the bestseller Waiting, unites a prominent Chinese university professor who suffers a brain injury and Jien Wen, a favorite student and future son-in-law who becomes his caretaker. As Professor Yang rants about his earlier life, his bizarre outbursts begin to strike Jien as containing some truth and, considering the uncertain times, he puzzles over their meaning. When Jien realizes that his additional responsibilities make sitting for his Ph.D. exams impossible, Meimei, his fiancée, promptly discards him, branding him as unloving, since passing the exams would have ensured they would both have attended graduate school in Beijing. Unmoored from the university, and unconnected to anything else, Jien joins the student movement and as a result becomes a police suspect.
Problematic to the plot is that Meimei is hardly warm to Jien; their relationship never appears to be anything but doomed. The professor's hallucinatory diatribes comprise the bulk of the novel, and initially it seems unlikely that a story will ever evolve from these ramblings. But with Yang indisposed, minor characters from the university conspire to devise means to further their personal agendas. A mystery results, as university and literature department personnel plot to have someone other than Jien marry Meimei. Jin's prose is succinct, but the most interesting parts of Jien's life occur, unfortunately, at the end of the book, leaving readers who fell for Waiting wanting more. --Michael Ferch
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