Although the locale for all of Jin’s fiction is China, the stories and novels are more than mere sociopolitical tracts about life under communist rule. The struggle of the individual seeking to establish identity, security, and self-worth in an absurd society is a theme that transcends political, cultural, and geographic borders. In some ways, much of Jin’s fiction is reminiscent of the work of the Czech writer Franz Kafka or German novelist Günter Grass. All three novelists describe the existential dilemma men and women face who live in a world in which social convention or political will alone dictates right and wrong—and one in which the standards shift constantly. Seen in this light, a novel such as The Crazed is eerily reminiscent of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four (1949), and Waiting shares affinities with the work of a similar title by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, En attendant Godot (1952; Waiting for Godot, 1954). For Jin, the value in life is made by those who live it, and their efforts to struggle against a closed system of arbitrary rules gives his characters a sense of dignity. Jin suggests that life is inherently tragic; it may have its comic moments, but inevitably his protagonists must face the fact that their efforts to make their lives meaningful can be of value only to themselves. As Jin himself has acknowledged, such writing makes readers uncomfortable. Nevertheless, he asserts that this is the only form of literature worth writing.