Shao Bin is a factory fitter in a small Chinese town, a poor and unconnected man with a young wife and a small child, but also an accomplished artist and calligrapher. He's worked at the plant for six years, so feels that this time his family will get an appartment in Worker's Park, where his wife won't have to walk two miles to wash their clothes.
But the party controls everything in the town, and again, the apartments go to corrupt officials and their cronies. Outraged, Bin pens a series of political cartoons attacking them, and finds his trouble is only just beginning.
Ha Jin left his native China in 1985 for the USA. He is the author of the novels, Waiting , winner of the 1999 National Book Award for Fiction, and the 2000 PEN/ Faulkner Award; and The Crazed, as well as three collections of stories and three volumes of poetry. He lives near Boston and teaches at Boston University.