This unforgettable novel tells the story, in memoir form, of Yu Yuan, a young Chinese army officer, one of a corps of 'volunteers' sent by Mao to help shore up the communist side in Korea.
When Yu is captured by the Americans, his command of English thrusts him into the role of unofficial interpreter in the psychological warfare that defines the POW camp. Desperate to return to his beloved fiancée and his widowed mother, Yu Yuan is trapped not only by barbed wire, but also by politics . . .
Taking us behind the barbed wire, Ha Jin renders brilliantly the complex world the prisoners inhabit. As Yu and his fellow captives struggle to create some sense of community while remaining watchful of the deceptions inherent in every exchange, only the idea of home can hold out the promise of a return to their former selves.