In the Pond

In the Pond

A Novel

Book - 1998 | 1st ed.
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Baker & Taylor
Details life in the small factory town of Dismount Fort in northern China through the eyes of Shao Bin, a worker at the Harvest Fertilizer plant

Blackwell North Amer
Set in the northern provincial commune town of Dismount Fort, In the Pond tells the story of Shao Bin, a worker at the Harvest Fertilizer plant who aims above his station. Passed over on the list to receive a larger apartment, while those in favor with the party are selected ahead of him, Shao Bin chafes at his powerlessness until he hits upon a solution: placing a satirical cartoon in the provincial newspaper. In the Pond is a close, unsentimental depiction of life in a small factory town: the maneuvering, posturing, petty jealousies and injustices of an ordinary man who tangles with the party bosses. In this first novel, as in his short fiction, "Ha Jin captures the particularities of life in China, yet we recognize his characters intimately.

Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Zoland Books, 1998.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780944072929
Characteristics: 178 p. ; 21 cm.


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RogerDeBlanck Jun 30, 2018

In the Pond achieves an excellent balance between the seriousness of the issues it addresses and the humor it evokes. At its core, the novel exposes the constraints the Chinese government puts on its citizens. The main character, Shao Bin, is a flinty and daring man who feels cheated out of his rights to attain new housing at a commune called Dismount Fort. He turns his displeasure towards the local leaders into action against them. He confronts their corruption by creating satirical cartoons that criticize them both professionally and personally. The novel becomes an escalation of the conflict between Bin and the authority figures. Unlike Jin’s previous short story collections, where tragedy slowly encroaches and often shallows the main characters, this novel offers hope for the resilient Bin. Even with its positive resolution, In the Pond condemns the orthodox communist ideology in China and how it suppresses any form of dissension or any pursuit of personal success.


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