Asia,  Book Reviews,  FICTION

War Trash by Ha Jin * (of 4)

A second rate book by a first rate author. Jin read everything he could find on the fate of Chinese prisoners of war during the Korean conflict then invents a chinese protagonist capable of speaking English to serve as the author’s mouthpiece. But Jin ends up with a book that lacks immediacy or urgency. Instead, War Trash feels like a forced piece of fiction with implausible connectors to get the protagonist from one scene to the next so Jin can fictionalize, thinly, true events. I suppose it’s news to discover Chinese POWs weren’t treated well, but Jin doesn’t even succeed in making war feel like hell in this book. Better off reading¬†Waiting, or better still,¬†Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. April 2006.