Cover image for The crazed
The crazed
Jin, Ha, 1956-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pantheon Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
323 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"In his new novel, the author of Waiting deepens his portrait of contemporary Chinese society while exploring the perennial conflicts between convention and individualism, integrity and pragmatism, loyalty and betrayal. Professor Yang, a respected teacher of literature at a provincial university, has had a stroke, and his student Jian Wan - who is also engaged to Yang's daughter - has been assigned to care for him. What at at first seems a simple if burdensome duty becomes treacherous when the professor begins to rave: pleading with invisible tormentors, denouncing his family, his colleagues, and a system in which a scholar is "just a piece of meat on a cutting board."" "Are these just manifestations of illness, or is Yang spewing up the truth? And can the dutiful Jian avoid being irretrievably compromised?"--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 and is now a professor of English at Emory University. He is author of, among other works, two short-story collections: Ocean of Words, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award, and Under the Red Flag, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for short fiction. His novel Waiting won the National Book Award for fiction in 1999.

He lives in Atlanta.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Jian Wan has plans. A graduate literature student, he's studying hard for Beijing University's Ph.D. entrance exams in the hope of living an academic life like that of his beloved mentor, Professor Yang. He also intends to marry Yang's ambitious daughter. But when Yang suffers a severe stroke that leaves him partially paralyzed and trapped in a form of dementia that induces him to relive his painful past out loud in distressing rants and raves, it falls to his high-strung and sensitive future son-in-law to act as caregiver. And so Jian sits and listens with growing despair as his possessed professor confronts his ghosts, recalls his horrendous internment at a hard labor camp during the Cultural Revolution, and rails against the tyrannical government. As in his National Book Award-winning novel, Waiting (1999), Ha Jin works on a spare narrative stage, in this case, a scruffy hospital room, on which a suspenseful and complex tale of dreams and betrayals unfolds. As Yang struggles with his demons, courageous student protesters mass on Tiananmen Square, and everything Jian has believed in and held dear begins to disintegrate. Gradually it becomes clear that Yang's anguish and Jian's predicament are microcosms of the overarching tragedy of their country. Writing with a searing restraint born of long-brewing grief over the Chinese government's surreal savageness, Ha Jin depicts a warped society in which everyone is driven mad by viciousness and injustice. But Ha Jin's dramatic indictment does not preclude love, or the ancient power of story to memorialize, awaken compassion, and shore up hope. Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

On the day after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, Jian Wan, the narrator of Ha Jin's powerful new novel, comes upon two weeping students. "I'm going to write a novel to fix all the fascists on the page," says one of them. The other responds, "yes... we must nail them to the pillory of history." Ha's novel is written in the conviction that writers don't nail anyone to anything: at best, they escape nailing themselves. Jian is a graduate student in literature at provincial Shanning University. In the spring of 1989, his adviser, Professor Yang, suffers a stroke, and Jian listens as the bedridden Yang raves about his past. Yang's bitterness about his life under the yoke of the Communist Party infects Jian, who decides to withdraw from school. His fiance Professor Yang's daughter, Meimei breaks off their engagement in disgust, but Jian is heartened by a trip into the countryside, after which he decides that he will devote himself to helping the province's impoverished peasants. His plan is to become a provincial official, but the Machiavellian maneuverings of the Party secretary of the literature department a sort of petty Madame Mao cheat him of this dream, sending him off on a hapless trip to Beijing and Tiananmen Square. Despite this final quixotic adventure, Ha's story is permeated by a grief that won't be eased or transmuted by heroic images of resistance. Jian settles for shrewd, small rebellions, to prevent himself from becoming "just a piece of meat on a chopping board." Like Gao Xingjian, Ha continues to refine his understanding of politics as an unmitigated curse. (Oct. 22) Forecast: Arguably more accessible than Waiting, which won a National Book Award, The Crazed should bolster Ha Jin's reputation as the premier novelist of the Chinese diaspora. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ha's first novel since the National Book Award-winning Waiting is set in 1989 China in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre. As Jian Wan sits by the bedside of his professor and future father-in-law, who has been felled by a stroke, he begins to discover peculiar yet arresting secrets about the professor's past. The seemingly delirious Yang is given to outbursts of shouting, singing, and talking to individuals who are not there. Scared but intrigued, Jian decides to delve deeper into the catalyst for Yang's mysterious behavior. Ha's multilayered, easy-to-read tale is intriguing as always, drawing the reader into the lives of his simple characters by creating complex story lines and striking a delicate balance between the humanistic and the political. Readers who appreciated Ha's previous works are sure to find this novel of interest. Recommended for large fiction and Asian literature collections in both public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/02.]-Shirley N. Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.