The Bridegroom

October 04, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

This collection of 12 stories from the Chinese émigré whose novel ”Waiting” won this year’s National Book Award opens the door to a world that is at once forbidding — citizens are expected to write self criticisms, spy on their peers, and embrace policies like the Form New Families act, in which earthquake survivors are assigned new spouses and children — and highly recognizable.

The settings in The Bridegroom may be unfamiliar, but the characters are driven by universal emotions like hubris, greed, and regret. In ”Saboteur,” a vacationer finds revenge after he is arrested and forced to confess to a crime he didn’t commit; in ”Flame,” a woman tries to impress a former suitor by securing a promotion for her husband. Ha Jin’s spare prose, subtle wit, and surprising plot twists make for a read that is both quick and memorable.

The Bridegroom

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The Bridegroom

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