Books: Divorce, Chinese-Style

A fine first novel, Waiting, revels in one man's comically thwarted quest for personal happiness

Dr. Lin Kong, the hero of Ha Jin's Waiting (Pantheon; 308 pages; $24), is hardly the first man, in or outside of fiction, to wish to end his first marriage and wed the woman he now loves. But rarely, if ever, has such a fellow been bedeviled by the array of obstacles Lin must confront. Not only is he scrupulously moral and thus vulnerable to all the guilty pangs of wayward husbandhood, but Lin's travails occur in a place--Communist China--and during a time--the early 1960s to the early '80s--when literally all occasions conspire against the quest for such a trivial thing...

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