[LITERATURE] Ha Jin's "War Trash" Wins 2nd PEN/Faulkner Award
- 'War Trash' Wins Ha Jin 2nd PEN/Faulkner Award
By Darragh Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
For "War Trash," a historical novel made both timely and more poetic
by the events of today, Ha Jin has won the 2005 PEN/Faulkner Award
for Fiction for the second time, an achievement that ranks him with
Philip Roth and John Edgar Wideman, the prize's only other two-time
The word novel means "news of the world," Herbert Gold, one of the
three judges, said yesterday, yet finding books that fulfill this
definition can be difficult: How many stories are so urgently told
that we must stop and listen? How many tales still surprise us?
Jin's novel tells of Chinese soldiers taken prisoner in the Korean
War. (Jerry Bauer -- Random House)
Gold describes Jin's subject as: "The sense of what it was like for
Chinese prisoners of war, imprisoned by Americans, during the Korean
War." Once, that topic might have been seen as obscure. Today, it
dovetails presciently with the tamped-down, secretive world of Abu
Ghraib or Guantanamo.
And yet the power of "War Trash" goes beyond that, said judge David
Anthony Durham. It's a haunting, evocative novel about an "aging
Chinese man visiting [his] immigrant family in America" -- a man who
is "quietly here in our midst, ruminating on our history . . .
[which] most of us have forgotten or never knew about, to begin
"When I closed 'War Trash,' I knew," he said. "It was like: I know
this book is no heavier than any other, but the weight of the impact
was much more profound."
The PEN/Faulkner is the largest peer-juried prize for fiction in the
United States, according to the foundation, which administers the
prize. The awards ceremony will be held at the Folger Library in
There, Jin will receive $15,000 and be joined by four finalists --
Jerome Charyn for "The Green Lantern"; Edwidge Danticat for "The Dew
Breaker"; Marilynne Robinson for "Gilead"; and Steve Yarbrough
for "Prisoners of War," each of whom will receive $5,000.
Jin last won the PEN/Faulkner Award, in addition to a National Book
Award, for his 2000 novel "Waiting." A professor of English at
Boston University, he has published two other novels, "The Crazed"
and "The Bridegroom," along with two collections of poetry and two
collections of short fiction.