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Informational, but lacking emotional depth
I enjoyed reading War Trash, in that it was an excellent account of life as a Chinese prisoner of war during the Korean War. Although my father was enlisted in the army during that conflict, I know very little about that period of history. Ha Jin's novel illuminated a small part of the era, and it sparked my interest in learning more. It's well-written and it kept my attention throughout. I was a bit disappointed, however, in the author's inability to draw me in, emotionally - to make me care about the narrator and his companions. It didn't feel enough like the personal account it was intended to be the elderly narrator is relating his experiences during the war years, 40 years or so in his past. I thought the novel was interesting, but not exceptional.
War Trash, memoirs of a soldier
I found this novel to be an excellent read because it allowed me to see a vastly untold struggle of that particular war of which I was not aware.
The themes of revenge and honour are portrayed in this text. The theme of honour is developed by the traditional Chinese code of honour which plays an important role in the struggle prisoner of war camps and on the prisoners return to China. The theme of revenge however ensures in the struggle only in the prisoner of war camps where the prisoners the pro-nationalists avenge themselves on the communists for their leaders using them as cannon fodder.
This novel was in my opinion a thrilling read and it has inspired me to do much research on the Korean War.