A Good Fall – Short Stories by Hajin

“A Good Fall” consists of short stories written by a Chinese-American author, Hajin. The stories are about Chinese immigrants’ lifestyles in America and how they struggle to make a living in some stories. Out of all the stories, (I can’t remember the exact number since I’ve returned the book), I like the following –

“The Bane of the Internet”

This describes the relationship between two sisters, one is in America, and another is in China. The elder sister send letters to her family in China, but now she can contact them easily with the use of the internet. At first, she was happy with the communication improvement, but later on, she started hating it because her sister kept asking her to lend her money to buy a car. The elder sister was unhappy because none of her family seems to know about how life is harsh in the U.S and how she has to work long hours. She didn’t want to lend the money, but in the end, she had to because her sister advertised herself as an organ donator on the internet.

“A Composer and His Parakeets”

Fanlin was asked by his girlfriend to look after Falin, her parakeet, while she was in India to shoot a movie. At first, he was reluctant, but later on, he grew attached to the bird. He even saved the bird from drowning by diving into the river. His attachment to the bird helped him in his music composition for an opera.

“Children As Enemies”

One of the touching story in the book, it’s about the conflict between the conservative grandparents and the grandchildren who wanted to become Americanized. I want to write in more details so I’ll write in a separate post.

“In the Crossfire”

A mother came to the States to live with her son and her daughter-in-law for a six-month visit, but she made everything unpleasant for the couple so in the end, the son quit his job and told his mother that he was laid off. The mother was saddened by the news so she went back to China to not be a burden to her son. Although he disliked living with his mother, he reminisced about the time his parents stood in the rain with an umbrella to wait for him while he was taking the exams. That last part was really touching.

“The English Professor”

The character has been working as an Assistant Professor for about seven years in a university. He’s been wanting to become promoted to Associate Professor, but in his paper, he made a slight mistake in grammar – he wrote ‘respectly’ instead of ‘respectfully’. Ever since he found out his mistake, he’s been worried to death about not being able to work as a professor anymore and being mocked by his colleagues. He even attempted to find a new job. He was promoted and he was so overjoyed that his wife had to give him medicine to calm him down.

“A Good Fall”

The title story is about a monk who was cheated out of his labor money. He had debts to pay off, but he received not a cent from the head monk. The head monk kept the passport and would only give it back when he goes back to China. He decided to commit suicide, but he only injured his leg in the jump from the old building. His story was covered in a local Chinese newspaper and he was supported by many sympathizers. He shed off his monk robe and started living like a normal man, perhaps maybe he’ll have a relationship with a girl who helped him.

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