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Ocean of Words

Ha Jin.

385 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0944072909 / ISBN 13: 9780944072905
Published by Zoland, 1996
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Geoff Kreps - Bookseller (PORTLAND, OR, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Fine/Fine 2nd printing in an unclipped dust jacket. Signed by the author. Bookseller Inventory # 24626

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Ocean of Words

Publisher: Zoland

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author

Edition: 2nd Edition.

About this title


Twelve stories describe the experiences of Chinese officers and soldiers stationed along the Chinese-Russian border


Set on China's bleak northern border in the 1970s, when Russia and China were close to war, these short stories describe the life of soldiers, professional officers, and raw recruits, living in constant proximity. In this hierarchical and politically charged world, there is even less privacy than normal in China, highlighting a fundamental difference between Chinese and Western societies. The book provides an unusually brilliant insight into the Chinese psyche, with its preoccupations with food, family, and political standing, and its ambivalent attitudes toward women and animals.

Yet Ocean of Words also makes us aware of the common humanity that we share with Ha Jin's characters. Hunger, fear, sexual embarrassment, curiosity about the outside world are universal emotions, and we find ourselves caring deeply about these men. The title refers to a treasured dictionary in a story that brings together a maladjusted young man and an elderly officer. Ha Jin obviously cares deeply about words; his writing is spare, penetrating, and often funny, as when he describes the embarrassment of the officers at the "politically incorrect" earthiness of an old survivor of the Long March, who by definition must be considered an archetypal revolutionary. In this book, Ha Jin has done for the Chinese army what Zhang Xianliang did so powerfully for the prison camp in works like Grass Soup. -- John Stevenson

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