War Trash
War Trash
War Trash
War Trash

War Trash

Pantheon Books, New York, New York, 2004


Ha Jin is a critically acclaimed author of award-winning literary fiction. War Trash was his eagerly awaited new novel, set during and after the Korean War, focusing on Chinese prisoners of war. The book’s jacket needed to feel literary and allude to the real-life events in which it is set, while steering clear of seeming documentary and nonfiction. The story is harsh, determined and uncompromising to stylization.

Working with images from that era, it became clear how easy it could be to slip into nonfiction design tropes, which would misrepresent the book. On the other hand, abstraction tended to lose the message of the story’s setting, war (despite the word’s being part of the book’s title).

I liked the image of the soldiers on the case for its rough quality of reproduction, line screen and all, a quality carried out in the rough, open stock used for the jacket. What came together in the final design was a kind of imprisoning of the case by the jacket, with the hint of something coming through at the top. The soldiers on the case appear physically behind the fence of the jacket, which is hard and drab, with a small dose of the organic in the title ornament. The two directions of the exploratory stages came together while staying separate, and help to make the package multidimensional.

Collections: 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2004, AIGA Jurors (2005)
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book cover


Design firm
Pantheon Books
Art director
Archie Ferguson
Jacket designer
Brian Barth
Production director
Andy Hughes
Production coordinator
Avery Flück
Ha Jin
LuAnne Walther
Pantheon Books
Trim size
5 5/16 x 9 1/4 inches
Quantity printed
Jacket printer
Coral Graphic Services, Inc.
Jacket—uncoated 80 lb. Gilbert Esse Voice textured white stock, with gloss lamination on backside. Over board case—printed on back side of standard white 80 lb., coated one side, with press varnish finish.
Berryville Graphics, Berryville, Va.
Binding method
Hardcover, notch burst, round back