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War Trash

Genre: Fiction; Author: Ha Jin; Publisher: Pantheon

A former volunteer in the People’s Liberation Army of his native China, National Book Award-winning author Jin (Waiting) delivers a Korean War-set saga seen through the eyes of a PLA soldier sent into the conflict by his country’s Communist regime. Captured and held in POW camps, young Yu Yuan faces combat of another kind: Should he maintain his allegiance to the Reds or side with the anti-Communist Nationalists? Will his English-speaking skills elevate or impair him? And when will he reunite with his fiancée, with whom he’d made love just before leaving? (”It was as though I meant to pour all of myself into her so that a part of me would remain home.”) War Trash is a tough read — the sights, sounds, and stench of war seem unshakable — but it’s both timely and touching.

Originally posted October 8 2004 — 12:00 AM EDT

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