Monday, November 12, 2012

#BookReview: The Bridegroom - Ha Jin

In this collection of short stories from Ha Jin, winner of the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, readers are treated to plenty of tongue in cheek humor.  Of the 12 shorts, it would be hard to pick just one favorite.  I'd have to say In the Kindergarten and After Cowboy Chicken Came to Town are tied for first.

In In the Kindergarten, little Shaona hates that she's been sent away to kindergarten, sure that her parents will forget her now that her mother has given birth to a new baby.  Between being bullied by Dabin, the biggest boy in the class, and being tricked by her teacher, Shaona is at her wit's end.  But when she sees a chance to get revenge, she takes it and the results are hilarious.

When a Western fast food place makes its way to Muji City, its presence is met with glee by some and disdain by others.  For the workers at Cowboy Chicken, there's much confusion over traditional Chinese ways and the foreign, western way of doing things.  While "the customer is always right" may be the corporate motto, it doesn't go over well with the employees.  As the employees continue to work at Cowboy Chicken, they become more disgruntled with the actions of their American boss, Mr. Shapiro, and Peter, their Chinese born/American educated manager.  As the employees plot and plan their coup, they have no idea what's in store for them.

Written just over 10 years ago, it seems hard to believe that some of the stories in The Bridegroom are supposed to be set in present day.  In fact, it was only because of references to modern day technology that I was able to tell that the stories weren't set during the reign of Chairman Mao.  Regardless of the time period in which the stories take place, I found them all to be enjoyable.

Published: October 2000

Theme: That's It, I Quit, I'm Moving On by Adele

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