Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Chinese army officer Yu Yuan recalls mediating between Chinese POWs and their American captors during the Korean war. National Book Award winner Ha goes on an eight-city author tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Jin (Waiting; The Crazed; etc.) applies his steady gaze and stripped-bare storytelling to the violence and horrifying political uncertainty of the Korean War in this brave, complex and politically timely work, the story of a reluctant soldier trying to survive a POW camp and reunite with his family. Armed with reams of research, the National Book Award winner aims to give readers a tale that is as much historical record as examination of personal struggle. After his division is decimated by superior American forces, Chinese "volunteer" Yu Yuan, an English-speaking clerical officer with a largely pragmatic loyalty to the Communists, rejects revolutionary martyrdom and submits to capture. In the POW camp, his ability to communicate with the Americans thrusts him to the center of a disturbingly bloody power struggle between two factions of Chinese prisoners: the pro-Nationalists, led in part by the sadistic Liu Tai-an, who publicly guts and dissects one of his enemies; and the pro-Communists, commanded by the coldly manipulative Pei Shan, who wants to use Yu to save his own political skin. An unofficial fighter in a foreign war, shameful in the eyes of his own government for his failure to die, Yu can only stand and watch as his dreams of seeing his mother and fianc?e again are eviscerated in what increasingly looks like a meaningless conflict. The parallels with America's current war on terrorism are obvious, but Jin, himself an ex-soldier, is not trying to make a political statement. His gaze is unfiltered, camera-like, and the images he records are all the more powerful for their simple honesty. It is one of the enduring frustrations of Jin's work that powerful passages of description are interspersed with somewhat wooden dialogue, but the force of this story, painted with starkly melancholy longing, pulls the reader inexorably along. Agent, Lane Zachary at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Oct. 5) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Ha Jin, the author most recently of The Crazed (2002), has made exposing hidden facets of China's recent past his calling, and in this tour de force, he illuminates historical events that are as timely as they are shocking. Haunted by his Korean War experiences as a soldier in the Chinese army, Yu Yuan, 73, decides to commit his wracking memories to paper, and proves to be a remarkably sympathetic and compelling guide to a heretofore unknown circle of hell. Interned in an American POW camp after being seriously wounded, Yu Yuan is alarmed to discover that the Americans and Nationalist Chinese loyal to Chiang Kai-shek are forcing POWs to go to Taiwan upon their release instead of their homes in mainland China. The impetus is to weaken the communist base, but the result is the coalescence of a covert prisoners' resistance movement of great daring and ingenuity in spite of vicious divisiveness. As the captors seek to reduce the captives to war trash with brutal mind games and outright torture--and one can't help but think of the prisoner abuse scandals in Iraq--the prisoners respond by staging dramatic protests. Singled out because of his fluency in English, spiritual-minded Yu Yuan, intent on returning home to his widowed mother and fiancee, treads a knife's edge as translator and go-between. Ha Jin's taut drama of war, incarceration, coercion, and survival is galvanizing, and his ardently observant narrator is heroic in his grappling with the paradox of humankind's savagery and hunger for the divine. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Chinese army officer Yu Yuan recalls mediating between Chinese POWs and their American captors during the Korean war. National Book Award winner Ha goes on an eight-city author tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Jin (Waiting; The Crazed; etc.) applies his steady gaze and stripped-bare storytelling to the violence and horrifying political uncertainty of the Korean War in this brave, complex and politically timely work, the story of a reluctant soldier trying to survive a POW camp and reunite with his family. Armed with reams of research, the National Book Award winner aims to give readers a tale that is as much historical record as examination of personal struggle. After his division is decimated by superior American forces, Chinese "volunteer" Yu Yuan, an English-speaking clerical officer with a largely pragmatic loyalty to the Communists, rejects revolutionary martyrdom and submits to capture. In the POW camp, his ability to communicate with the Americans thrusts him to the center of a disturbingly bloody power struggle between two factions of Chinese prisoners: the pro-Nationalists, led in part by the sadistic Liu Tai-an, who publicly guts and dissects one of his enemies; and the pro-Communists, commanded by the coldly manipulative Pei Shan, who wants to use Yu to save his own political skin. An unofficial fighter in a foreign war, shameful in the eyes of his own government for his failure to die, Yu can only stand and watch as his dreams of seeing his mother and fianc?e again are eviscerated in what increasingly looks like a meaningless conflict. The parallels with America's current war on terrorism are obvious, but Jin, himself an ex-soldier, is not trying to make a political statement. His gaze is unfiltered, camera-like, and the images he records are all the more powerful for their simple honesty. It is one of the enduring frustrations of Jin's work that powerful passages of description are interspersed with somewhat wooden dialogue, but the force of this story, painted with starkly melancholy longing, pulls the reader inexorably along. Agent, Lane Zachary at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Oct. 5) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Ha Jin, the author most recently of The Crazed (2002), has made exposing hidden facets of China's recent past his calling, and in this tour de force, he illuminates historical events that are as timely as they are shocking. Haunted by his Korean War experiences as a soldier in the Chinese army, Yu Yuan, 73, decides to commit his wracking memories to paper, and proves to be a remarkably sympathetic and compelling guide to a heretofore unknown circle of hell. Interned in an American POW camp after being seriously wounded, Yu Yuan is alarmed to discover that the Americans and Nationalist Chinese loyal to Chiang Kai-shek are forcing POWs to go to Taiwan upon their release instead of their homes in mainland China. The impetus is to weaken the communist base, but the result is the coalescence of a covert prisoners' resistance movement of great daring and ingenuity in spite of vicious divisiveness. As the captors seek to reduce the captives to war trash with brutal mind games and outright torture--and one can't help but think of the prisoner abuse scandals in Iraq--the prisoners respond by staging dramatic protests. Singled out because of his fluency in English, spiritual-minded Yu Yuan, intent on returning home to his widowed mother and fiancee, treads a knife's edge as translator and go-between. Ha Jin's taut drama of war, incarceration, coercion, and survival is galvanizing, and his ardently observant narrator is heroic in his grappling with the paradox of humankind's savagery and hunger for the divine. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist