Nanjing Requiem, by Ha Jin, is "Rich" and "Powerful," Says The New York Times

From the award winning author of Waiting and War Trash, comes an extraordinary new novel that retells the brutal invasion and occupation of Nanjing by the Japanese Imperial Army in 1937.

“Ha Jin brings a cool, spare documentary approach to this rich trove of material…a book that renders a subtle and powerful vision of one of the 20th century’s most monstrous interludes.” –New York Times Book Review

“Should be required reading for anyone who isn’t familiar with what happened at Nanjing…Courageously and unflinchingly, Ha Jin has taken an important step in remembering both the victims and the heroes of that senseless slaughter.” –Associated Press

Minnie, an American missionary that arrived to China in the 1920’s as a teacher, is dean of her school on the eve of the rape on Nanjing. Believing that her American citizenship would protect her, she stays behind at her school using the grounds as a shelter to safeguard her students, and later other thousands of women and children. She soon comes to realize her mistake, but by then, as is usually the case, it’s too late to escape.

The invasion on Nanjing remains a subject of which, little is understood or documented. Using the diaries of Minnie Vautrin and records of other foreigners that witnessed the invasion, Ha Jin vividly recreates the ordeals, terror, and random acts of violence in this fact-based fictional tale.

Nanjing Requiem is quite possibly the most comprehensive account of this horrifying historical event to date, and in using Minnie—a most unlikely character to stand at the center of it all—Ha Jin has also created an unforgettable portrait of a woman who, in the end, fails to protect herself, and those around her against the maelstrom of history.