War trash


352 pages

English language

Published Jan. 8, 2005 by Penguin Books.

OCLC Number:

View on OpenLibrary

No rating (0 reviews)

Set in 1951–53, War Trash takes the form of the memoir of Yu Yuan, a young Chinese army officer, one of a corps of “volunteers” sent by Mao to help shore up the Communist side in Korea. When Yu is captured, his command of English thrusts him into the role of unofficial interpreter in the psychological warfare that defines the POW camp.

Taking us behind the barbed wire, Ha Jin draws on true historical accounts to render the complex world the prisoners inhabit—a world of strict surveillance and complete allegiance to authority. Under the rules of war and the constraints of captivity, every human instinct is called into question, to the point that what it means to be human comes to occupy the foremost position in every prisoner’s mind.

As Yu and his fellow captives struggle to create some sense of community while remaining watchful of the deceptions inherent in …

5 editions


  • Prisoners of war
  • Prisoners and prisons
  • Translators
  • Chinese fiction
  • Korean War, 1950-1953
  • Fiction