Wait No More by Deb Mia

Like my fellow Debs, I read a lot. A ton. And very quickly, mostly because quick is all I have these days.

Caveat: I may be quick, but I’m not always timely (also like my fellow Debs – Debs of a feather flock together, and all that), meaning that books released in 2006 may not cross my desk until, oh, 2008 or so. So the title I am about to put forth is six years old, but by far the best book I read in 2006, so here it is:

Waiting by Ha Jin

waiting.jpg

Aside from the usual accolades (PEN/Faulkner Award, National Book Award Winner, Pulitzer Prize Finalist, NYT Notable Book, yada yada yada), it is a damn good book. It’s eloquent, easy to read, but multi-layered and complex. It’s literary fiction at its best, and carries a moral: Be careful what you wish for (because you just might get it). It also has one of the best first lines of a book: “Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.” Now how could you not start reading with an opening like that?

But here’s the other thing I love. The author, originally a Chinese national, was illiterate until his mid-teens, lived through the Cultural Revolution, studied in America, wrote a bunch of poetry and books, and now teaches English at Boston University (he use to prof at Emory , too). Plus there’s all those awards and that Pulitzer Prize thingy. I have to say I admire that about a writer. I mean, sure it makes me feel like a wimp for whining about not finding time to write, but it also makes me respect the process of writing even more, and pushes me to be a better writer.

Who, or what, helps you be a better writer?

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13 thoughts on “Wait No More by Deb Mia

  1. I wondered if it was good….thanks for the insight! I read a lot and very fast too 🙂 which can be a pain when you have to buy three novels per flight when traveling to keep the boredom at bay………..

  2. Mia, Ha Jin is a gift to literature. Not only is his first line mesmerizing, the last page of that book has haunted me daily — and I read it when it debuted. The last page of Anne Tyler’s Digging to America is nearly as good, but is the antithesis emotionally. Great posts, Debs. This has been a fun week.

  3. This looks like of fantastic book. I’m finally able to get back into the swing of things because my youngest is now in preschool. I appreciate your review.

  4. I read this one a few years ago and loved the opening line, which hoooked me right away. It really is a beautifully written novel. Thanks for reminding me to pull it out and dust it off! 🙂

  5. I really have to get this book now. Is that a National Book Award sticker I see on the cover? Must be excellent literary fiction. Thanks for the review.

  6. Arrrggghhh! Look people, I’m PACKING for god’s sake, how am I going to read all these amazing books y’all are coming up with? Sounds fascinating, Mia. On the list!

  7. Now I’m starting to panic because I need to read all the week’s recommendations! This sounds incredible and I agree–that opener is delicious.

  8. Sounds fantastic and what a life story. I love the idea of looking at something like that as inspiring rather than shame (for having not accomplished so much) inducing…

  9. Hmm..I’m part Chinese and I definitely need to read Waiting. It sounds like a wonderful book that will help me to learn a lot more about the Chinese culture.

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