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The Crazed (2002)
by Ha Jin
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375714111, Paperback)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
(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 19 Apr 2011 02:07:21 -0400)
"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.
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