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book review

Amid Nanjing massacre, horror and honor

Bleak reimagining of slaughter, rape tallies cost of war

By Jane Ciabattari
November 6, 2011

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Beginning in the late 1990s, with “Ocean of Words’’ and “Under the Red Flag’’, stories of the Red Guard sweeping through villages in his native Northeast China, Ha Jin’s short stories, poems and novels have offered American readers an essential chronicle of contemporary China. Disillusioned after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, he remained in the U.S. and began to write in English. In “Nanjing Requiem’’ his bleak, precisely rendered, and elegiac sixth novel, he takes on the Nanjing massacre more than seventy years after the taking of the ancient walled city.

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By Ha Jin

Pantheon, 303 pp. $26.95