by Ha Jin
After reading War Trash, this reviewer wants to read more of this fascinating and articulate writer. War Trash, a novel based on historical fact, tells the intriguing tale of Yu Yuan, a 1949 graduate of a Chinese military academy after the Communists have seized control of China, who "volunteers" to aid the North Koreans during the Korean Conflict. The first part details his being sent to Korea and the harrowing time he and his comrades endure wandering around the Korean countryside and trying to survive as soldiers in a battle field. Yuan is captured by American forces and becomes a POW. Jin creates Yuan's life as a prisoner in gripping fashion as he suffers torture, brutality and hardship. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his confinement is the intense pressure Chinese prisoners suffered by their fellow countrymen to pledge loyalty to either the Communists on the mainland or Taiwan. In all, this well-written novel sheds much light on the Korean Conflict from a different angle - that of a Chinese soldier. Very highly recommended.
by Ha Jin