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Nanjing requiem
Ha Jin
Adult Fiction JIN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

For his sixth novel, Jin (Waiting) focuses on the atrocities committed by the Japanese occupiers in 1937 Nanjing. Jin describes horrible acts in a style bordering on reportage, lending bitter realism to his chronicle of violence and privation. While much will be familiar to readers of Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanjing, Jin anchors his tale on two characters: the middle-aged narrator, Anling Gao, and real-life American missionary Minnie Vautrin, dean of Jinling Women's College. Anling assists Minnie, and through her eyes we follow the missionary's heroic decision to open the college to homeless refugees, creating a safety zone that the Japanese can't penetrate. Jin wants to celebrate this "Goddess of Mercy" who sheltered more than 10,000 women and children, endured near daily menace from the Japanese, and literally worked herself to death. Anling too makes a heartbreaking sacrifice, although her torment is secret, since she cannot acknowledge her son's Japanese wife nor the child they bear. Jin's dialogue includes some unfortunate anachronisms ("cut to the chase"; "pain in the ass"), contemporary phrases that wouldn't have been part of a pious Chinese or American woman's vocabulary in the 1930s. Despite these minor lapses, Jin paints a convincing, harrowing portrait of heroism in the face of brutality. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In an introductory galley letter, National Book Award winner Jin (Waiting, 1999) announces his intent to reclaim American missionary Minnie Vautrin's heroism during the 1937 Nanjing massacre: "She suffered and ruined herself helping others, but she became a legend. At least her story has moved me to write a novel about her. If I succeed, my book might put her soul at peace." While many were fleeing the city as it came under Japanese attack, Vautrin opened Jinling Women's College to 10,000 mostly women and children and repeatedly risked her life to save refugees from the atrocities the Japanese military inflicted on Chinese civilians during the Sino-Japanese War. Vautrin's experiences are filtered through the perspective of her fictional Chinese assistant, who records both Vautrin's courage and her agonizing demise over the victims she couldn't save. VERDICT Requiem is necessary testimony, but as with Iris Chang's groundbreaking The Rape of Nanking, readers should be aware of the book's relentless, graphic horror. Jin's loyal readers will notice a bluntness-jarringly effective here-different from his previous works, as if Jin, too, must guard himself against the horror, the horror. [See Prepub Alert, 4/25/11.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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