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Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin

Nanjing Requiem (2011)

by Ha Jin (Author)

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A good historical novel about the Rape of Nanking and subsequent occupation by the Japanese army told from the perspective of a Chinese woman who works with Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary who helped save the lives of thousands of Chinese. Having read so many historical accounts of the atrocities committed during this period, I'm surprised there is not more detail about it in the story. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
I love Ha Jin. And violence in literature does not necessarily make me turn away. But it did, at this point in time. Just. Too. Much.
  beckydj | Mar 31, 2013 |
There was such potential in this novel, but the detachedness of the narrator mixed with the poorly intertwined story versus history made it difficult to have any sort of emotional involvement with the characters. A book like this needs to be devastating to be effective and Nanjing Requiem isn't. ( )
  reluctantm | Aug 5, 2012 |
Ha Jin's prose is typically understated and monochromatic. This lends itself well to intimate tales set poignantly against implacably oppressive backdrops. In Nanjing Requiem, however, with its full on atrocity and attendant heroism, his usual style gives the impression, at least initially, of verging on tone deafness. The flat mix of quotidian and horrific seems somehow to diminish the event. We expect to be pushed or pulled to feel more. He does not provide the reader with an amplifying soundtrack. Instead he could simply be saying "Pay attention. This happened. Many were cruel. Many suffered. Some tried to move on. Others never could." ( )
1 vote maritimer | Jul 26, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307379760, Hardcover)

The award-winning author of Waiting and War Trash returns to his homeland in a searing new novel that unfurls during one of the darkest moments of the twentieth century: the Rape of Nanjing.
In 1937, with the Japanese poised to invade Nanjing, Minnie Vautrin—an American missionary and the dean of Jinling Women’s College—decides to remain at the school, convinced that her American citizenship will help her safeguard the welfare of the Chinese men and women who work there. She is painfully mistaken. In the aftermath of the invasion, the school becomes a refugee camp for more than ten thousand homeless women and children, and Vautrin must struggle, day after day, to intercede on behalf of the hapless victims. Even when order and civility are eventually restored, Vautrin remains deeply embattled, and she is haunted by the lives she could not save.

With extraordinarily evocative precision, Ha Jin re-creates the terror, the harrowing deprivations, and the menace of unexpected violence that defined life in Nanjing during the occupation. In Minnie Vautrin he has given us an indelible portrait of a woman whose convictions and bravery prove, in the end, to be no match for the maelstrom of history.
At once epic and intimate, Nanjing Requiem is historical fiction at its most resonant.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:31 -0400)

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During the 1937 attack on Nanjing, American missionary and women's college dean Minnie Vautrin decides to remain at her school during a violent Japanese attack that renders the school a refugee center for ten thousand women and children.

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