Apr 302010

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.

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