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So here we are again with one of these Booksluts ‘Full Frontal’ Challenge books. My word, when I signed up for this challenge and was blithely going through the lists of award winners for the different prizes, I had really forgotten how freakin’ harrowing literary fiction can be. This is a prime example of that – War Trash is super-intense. This book won the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction in 2005, but was also a finalist for the Pulitzer prize. Pretty hot shit.
And it’s no surprise really. This book kind of epitomises, to me, everything that fiction is capable of being – characters that really make you care about what happens to them, a broadening of your senses, creation of an empathy with characters who might be outside your realm of experience. The trick seems to be in Ha Jin’s writing – amazingly clear, emotive but not over the top, human as all get out. To be honest, I thought that I had picked up a memoir rather than a fictional book when I first started reading it, the details were so intricate and realistic (at least to my eyes – I’ve never been to that region of the world, and apart from one university paper and some reading, don’t know much about China at all, really. And I’ve certainly never been a prisoner of war, thank goodness). Read the rest of this entry