Waiting is a 1999 novel by Chinese-American author Ha Jin which won the National Book Award that year. It is based on a true story that Jin heard from his wife when they were visiting her family at an army hospital in China. At the hospital was an army doctor who had waited eighteen years to get a divorce so he could marry his longtime friend, a nurse.
The plot revolves around the fortunes of three people: Lin Kong, the army doctor; his wife Shuyu, whom he has never loved; and the nurse Manna Wu, his girlfriend at the hospital where he works. Beginning in 1963 and stretching over a twenty-year period, Waiting is set against the background of a changing Chinese society. It contrasts city and country life and shows the restrictions on individual freedoms that are a routine part of life under communism. But Waiting is primarily a novel of character. It presents a portrait of a decent but deeply flawed man, Lin Kong, whose life is spoiled by his inability to experience strong emotions and to love wholeheartedly.