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War Trash [PDF / EPUB] War Trash Ha Jin’s masterful new novel casts a searchlight into a forgotten corner of modern history the experience of Chinese soldiers held in US POW camps during the Korean War In 1951 Yu Yuan a scholarly a Ha Jin’s masterful new novel casts a searchlight into a forgotten corner of modern history the experience of Chinese soldiers held in US POW camps during the Korean War In Yu Yuan a scholarly and self effacing clerical officer in Mao’s “volunteer” army is taken prisoner south of the th Parallel Because he speaks English he soon becomes an intermediary between his compatriots and their American captorsWith Yuan as guide we are ushered into the secret world behind the barbed wire a world where kindness alternates with blinding cruelty and one has infinitely to fear from one’s fellow prisoners than from the guards Vivid in its historical detail profound in its imaginative empathy War Trash is Ha Jin’s most ambitious book to date.

  • Paperback
  • 368 pages
  • War Trash
  • Ha Jin
  • English
  • 01 October 2016
  • 9781400075799

About the Author: Ha Jin

Ha Jin is the pen name of Jin Xuefei a novelist poet short story writer and Professor of English at Boston UniversityHa Jin writes in English about China a political decision post Tiananmen Suare.



10 thoughts on “War Trash

  1. says:

    An excellent book by Ha Jin It is set in the background of the Korean War where the Chinese red army soldiers of the new communist government were sent to into battle against the US and UN forces in the Korean Peninsula The story unfolds as a memoir written by a former nationalist who was forced to join the communist army of China and who was later captured by the US army in North Korea It lays out his experience as a Chinese POW who goes through many obstacles and personal problems while struggling with his own identity his loyalties and emotions His role as an interpreter who excels in English gives him access to a wide range relationship and insight into to his own comrades in the prison and the US soldiers who presides over them The writing is SUPERB This is my first book by Ha Jin and I loved his ability to wove his fictional characters within factual historical events that occurred during the Korean War Overall an excellent read

  2. says:

    Never before have I read fiction so meticulous as to send me verifying multiple times that it was not actually a memoir A really incredible historic account of tragic heartbreaking reality told through a tragic heartbreaking story

  3. says:

    This novel is Ha Jin's exploration of the fate of Chinese soldiers captured in Korea As in much recent Chinese fiction Mao's regime comes across as cruelly incompetent and callous sending under supplied and trained men across the border As soldiers and as prisoners of war they are pawns for the greater good of what was then a new regime sent into war as a gesture to international communism and once in US custody used as bargaining chips This is a story about how a nation betrays its own soldiers of how a country's leadership uses ideology and language against its own people War Trash does not have the mythic resonance of Orwell but that is not its aim Ha Jin's aim is not allegory but reality not to show how a regime uses language to extinguish independence and the ability to think but to show how men are made to suffer for believing in it

  4. says:

    This book is the memoir of the experiences of Yu Yuan former student at the Huangpu Military Academy during the Korean War most of which he spends imprisoned by the Americans Actually you might say during the Chinese civil war because the effects of that conflict are everywhere You might even say during the Cold War Yuan initially believes the reason he was given for his division being sent to Korea to prevent the Americans from invading China; he has been told that the Chinese soldiers are heroes But he soon begins to feel like a pawn than a hero He's seeing that his superiors are playing a political game and national and global interests are being pursued in which individuals have no worthIn part this novel gives a view of the Cold War as seen very partially by its obscure narrator But it is also a character study as Yuan grows increasingly isolated He often retreats into introspection and reads when he can get printed material He does not want to join any party or side and could not if he wanted to having been involuntarily involved with both sides of the civil war and thus not trusted by either Yuan uietly resists being mere war trash used and thrown away He can speak good English and can recognize individual Americans addressing them by name This ability saves him and others several times He navigates through the dangers of being in the middle of the great conflict by negotiating with other people as individuals But ultimately this can't entirely save him because these other people are just as manipulated as he is

  5. says:

    This book is a ficitional account of a Chinese prisoner of the Korean War Apparently things weren't all funny serious then funnyserious like the TV show MASH made them out to be Yu Yuan or whatever various false names he used throughout his inturnment was a Nationalist Chinese who was used like a pawn by the Communist regime that had taken over before the war He was sent into Korea to keep the United States out of North Korea just so they would be that much further from mainland ChinaAt first the simplicity of the book bothered me but I slowly realized that it reinforces the fact that it is written in the first person by a fictional man who was not an author but rather just a person with a story to tellAs it was fairly simple the number of passages I highlighted were few and far between Really just three things stuck out to meThat's true I agreed I never thought so many Chinese would be buried in Korea His words conjured up the horrible image I hadn't been able to shake off that the war was an enourmous furnace fed by the bodies of soldiersThe same abstraction was supposed to take place among the rank and file too to us every American serviceman must be the devil whereas to them every one of us must be a Red Without such obliteration of human particularities how could one fight mercilessly?The larger a victory is the people have been turned into numerals This is the crime of war it reduces real human beings to abstract numbers

  6. says:

    How engaging should a novel about uniformly unpleasant experiences be? This novel is brief and pretty much stripped down of psychology; instead a series of things happen to the narrator a PLA soldier during the Korean War who spends most of his time in Korean refugee camps divided between Communist and Chinese Nationalist soldiers and overseen by the American military I found myself thinking of Defoe uite a bit the narrator has also brief moments of agency and is mostly just the victim of elaborately awful circumstances This lack of freedom within the narrative is literalized when he is forcibly tattooed with an anti Communist slogan The narrative winds up being pretty relentlessly anti Communist I thought over and over again soldiers in the camps organize themselves into groups to persecute each other and then upon their eventual return to China these groups are persecuted in return In comparison to this the novel is uite sympathetic to the American soldiers whose political system even as soldiers allows them greater personal freedoms As a whole I found the novel a series of events that happen to a mostly unreflective narrator to be uite dry and distancing; on the other hand that style is uite well suited to the particularities of time and setting

  7. says:

    So thank your lucky stars you were not a member of the Chinese Army around the time of the Korean War As Douglas MacArthur plotted to invade Mainland China Mao sent thousands of bodies to defend But it was like a mow down then starve off This PENFaulkner award winning novel is the fictional memoir of Yu Yuan a POW at several camps and a freuent pawn between the pro Nationalists and the Communists It's a dense read with some serious history and military strategy The scale of human suffering is so immense it almost becomes routine A few times my eyes glazed over as I read about yet another camp riot or food strike But Jin is a master storyteller I just reuested his other PENFaulkner winner Waiting because this book was so inspiring Bonus My knowledge of the Korean War was increased by 3000% And I learned that Jin is only the third author to win two PENFaulkner awards the others being Phillip Roth and John Edgar Wideman Impressive He earned it with this novel

  8. says:

    Fantastic book Interesting topic of a Chinese POW in American POW camps but Ha Jin's writing and character development really made it come alive Yuan is such a complex character who represents the Everyman in that he isn't driven in the war by strong political agenda he is just a soldier but he also stands out with his intellect and love of English Intriguing plot and setting development as well

  9. says:

    If you know nothing about the Korean War you will learn uite a bit from the Chinese perspective However it is very difficult to connect with the narrator and I came away from the book feeling very detached

  10. says:

    War Trash recounts the travails of Yu Yuan a Chinese veteran of the Korean War Yu who had been a student in a military academy when the Communists took over the Chinese government was viewed with some suspicion by his superiors since he might harbor Nationalist sympathies Still he was valuable because he could speak English so wellOnce in Korea Yu’s division was ordered to march south Against the superior firepower of the Americans the Chinese division got separated Yu and a handful of others survived nearly starving in the wilderness for weeks until they were captured as POWsFirst at a collection center then at a series of camps Yu struggles to survive as the Communists and Nationalists viciously clash with the captors doing little to maintain order until it reaches a boiling point and the US military arrives with force if not skill and strategyAlthough Yu is repelled by the extremism demanded by both factions of the Chinese he is at turns reuired to prove his loyalty to both for survival and when the war ends Yu’s struggles are far from overHa Jin has written War Trash in the form of a memoir drafted by Yu Yuan As a result the prose is as Yu might describe it “documentary like” richly descriptive and detailed but not elegant or beautiful Slang words and phrases like “meanie” “saving his own skin” “popped off” and “roped me in” are jarring and seem out of place yet maybe they aren’t because Yu learned English in part through reading the Stars and Stripes and through conversing with guards In short the book is not what I’d call well written but I cannot conclude if that is deliberate to reflect Yu’s voice or if it is because Jin didn’t rise up to his usual standards I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubtThe story itself makes War Trash worth reading Personally I know little about the Korean War and until reading War Trash I knew nothing about the American run POW camps Jin outlines the inventiveness and determination of the prisoners but also the toll it took as some slipped into depression or committed suicide American men for the most part are represented as buffoons saved by the strength of the military’s weaponry and euipmentChinese politics at the time serve as the backdrop Only two years since the Communists seized power the Nationalists formerly in power and backed by the Americans now ensconced in Taiwan still believe they can triumph to win back the country The Chinese POWs are pulled between these groups fearing them both yet needing to form an alliance with one or the other In the peace talks the POWs became a bargaining chip The Nationalists wanted to claim them to increase their ranks while the Communists wanted them to return to the mainland voluntarily to save face Of course Yu concludes that not just he and his fellow POWs but also many others affected and abandoned by the war effort are discarded and treated as war trashaka darzy | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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