All grad students fear irrelevance — like tweed and Foucault, it simply goes with the territory. Now take that gnawing doubt and multiply it by the People’s Republic of China, and you’ll have some idea of the predicament facing The Crazed‘s young scholar Jian. First, his mentor and future father-in-law is cut down by a stroke and begins babbling frighteningly cogent nonsense — he claims himself a lifeless, loveless puppet of cynical bureaucrats. Then Jian’s love life falls apart. And, naturally, the state manages to involve itself in both matters — all on the eve of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Ha Jin, whose novel ”Waiting” won the 1999 National Book Award, searches for the soul of China in a swamp of politics and materialism, with trademark pointillist detail.