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War Trash by Ha Jin
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Dec 04, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction-mainstream
Read in December, 2009

Jin, Ha. WAR TRASH. (2004). *****. Jin is a marvelous writer, and manages, with this book, to take us into the prison camp for Chinese POWs during the Korean War. I read this book when it first came out, but picked it up again to savor the language of the author. It is the story of Yu Wan, a clerical officer in Chairman Mao’s “volunteer” army fighting alongside the North Korean forces. When he is captured by U.S. troops below the 38th Parallel, he is interned along with other captured troops. He speaks English, and soon becomes the intermediary between his fellow Chinese and their American captors. Through Wan, we get a vivid picture of life in the camps and the society inside, and learn that it is full of both kindness and cruelty. We also learn that the prisoners’ fear is often greater from the threat of their fellow inmates than from their American guards. The book was chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times, and was short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize that year. Highly recommended.
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