White Badge: A Novel of Korea

Ahn Junghyo, Author, Junghyo Ahn, Author, Chong-Hyo An, Author Soho Press $19.95 (337p) ISBN 978-0-939149-16-2
This 1983 war novel by Korean journalist Ahn was a sensation in his native land, but will hold less interest for Western readers. A gritty, brutal account of the horrors of combat, told retrospectively by a man who lived through the Korean and Vietnam wars and now scouts foreign manuscripts for a publishing house, the narrative will startle readers by its familiarity. (``In my childhood war, everybody around me was in the same war,'' he writes. ``But in Vietnam, we fought alone, by ourselves.'') Ahn's depiction of war is evocative and relentless, but his hastily sketched characterizations rob his story of emotional vitality; as in old war movies, the members of the platoon depicted here are distinguishable only by their nicknames. An equally serious drawback is the author's rickety translation of his own work, which often strikes awkward notes. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Paperback - 346 pages - 978-1-56947-004-6
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