Waiting by Ha Jin is a tale with personal, political and historical themes. It describes the life of Lin Kong who must wait for eighteen years before he can marry his beloved. When he ultimately divorces his wife (Shuyu) and marries his girlfriend, Manna, he ends up disappointed. This is a poignant tale of two lovers during the time of the Cultural Revolution that presents a compelling exploration of the human heart.
In the story, the heart symbolizes several aspects of humanity: hope (to be able to divorce his wife and marry his lover), despair (due to the 18-year wait), disappointment (at not achieving the bliss Ha Jin and Manna expected), passion (of Lin for books), longing (for true love in life) and love (between the main protagonist and his lover).