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In The Pond Paperback – 3 Jan 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (3 Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099428164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099428169
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 434,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Though art and politics figure in the action, In the Pond is first and foremost a comedy - naughty, lusty, raucously entertaining. Ha Jin's language echoes working-class Chinese at its rough, bawdy best" New York Times Book Review "Fascinating...spare and taut... A fable about morality and power" Chicago Tribune "Ha Jin captures the particularities of life in China, yet we recognise his characters intimately. The 'otherness' of this most foreign nation falls away as one vividly drawn human after another takes flesh on the page" Boston Globe "Fascinating, refreshing and uncommonly subtle: Ha Jin has made China available to a new world and a world of new readers" Kirkus Reviews "A compelling exploration of the terrain that is the human heart... an all too rare reminder of the reasons why someone might feel so strongly about a book" New York Times

Book Description

The stark and powerful first novel by the prize-winning author of Waiting.

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jim Anso on 19 Nov 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading some of Ha Jin's short stories I couldn't wait to read one of his novels.
This is a very short book, written in the simplest of prose. The plot is rather predictable and the characters not very well developed.
However, hopefully without this sounding too patronising, I really felt as though the story was told by this working-class, poor, narrator. The language isn't flowery or poetic, it is the language of a maintenance worker in a fertalising plant, just as it is supposed to be (even though he is a self-professed intellectual). He describes the characters as one would expect him to describe them and the predicatability of the plot makes it seem realistic.
I couldn't put it down, and read the whole thing last Sunday. For the whole day I felt I had been transported to communist China and was deply involved in this man's struggle against the fertalising plant's corrupt leaders.
If you want a captivating little tale without too much literary poetic 'nonsense' then you'll love this!

(p.s. Don't listen to the review that says you can't help comparing this to Animal Farm- it is nothing like Animal Farm. The only similarity is that China is communist. Otherwise no resemblance whatsoever!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MrShev on 9 Mar 2007
Format: Paperback
This a short novella about a factory worker kicking up a fuss about the allocation of worker housing when he isn't top of the list for housing closer to the plant. He uses his artistic skills and satire to become a thorn in the side of the corrupt party officialdom.

This is written very simply, laying out the tale in black and white. The characters are just puppets for the plot and one glides through this short book not really getting a handle on any of the characters. The plot is good but it didn't exactly set my heart a-flutter. You do get an insight into communist China, but it's more like looking through a crack in the door than anything else. I do like that it becomes irrelevant that you are in China and the normality of the regime begins to feel everyday, commonplace.

However, it really is not that good. Take away China and communism from the equation and you are left with some pretty thin fiction and quite a forgettable book. So, two stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
After first reading Ha Jin's short story collections, like Under the Red Flag, I was very interested in reading a novel. He did not disappoint. One might expect the gut punch his stories like "Emperor" throw at us, but rather Jin did what few can do well. He created a subtle satire that extends beyond Communist China to all the world, just imagine your corporate heirarchy instead of a communist regime. Using humor that is either sly or farcical, he reminded me of another cunning writer, Don Delillo. In studying what makes a hero, he gets closer to such a character, a more real person than any Odysseus could ever be. This is the best book that I have read in the past year, except maybe McCarthy's Cities of the Plain.
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By jacr100 VINE VOICE on 23 Sep 2008
Format: Paperback
I hadn't heard of Ha Jin before reading In The Pond (whose title still baffles me even after having finished it) but I was immediately drawn to his uncomplicated, playful style. Although there are numerous comparisons on this site with Animal Farm, that may be misleading - this is less sinister and less allegorical, though both do effectively evince the strangulating hold of Communist authorities over the individual. The story is essentially about the efforts of factory worker Shao Bin to denigrate the factory bosses after they overlook him when some new apartments are made available to employees. They consider Bin an unhinged troublemaker, but as he starts to show the same imaginative streak in his protests as he does in his excellent artwork, the power struggle becomes increasingly bitter. Will Secretary Liu and Director Ma break Bin's will and turn his colleagues against him, or can he fight his way out of an oppressive system by creative thought? And can an individual really exist outside of those power structures? This short book (a novella really) reads as compulsively as an adventure tale but cleverly explores the frustrations of life for free thinkers in Communist societies such as China's - or rather, how one should and shouldn't play the game for one's own benefit. Recommended: this is one of those books that you can make as complicated as you want it to be.
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