Winner of the Guardian fiction prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
From the master of dystopia, comes his heartrending story of a British boy’s four-year ordeal in a Japanese prison camp during the Second World War. Based on J. G. Ballard’s own childhood, this is the extraordinary account of a boy’s life in Japanese-occupied wartime Shanghai - a mesmerising, hypnotically compelling novel of war, of starvation and survival, of internment camps and death marches. It blends searing honesty with an almost hallucinatory vision of a world thrown utterly out of joint. Rooted as it is in the author’s own disturbing experience of war in our time, it is one of a handful of novels by which the 20th century will be not only remembered but judged.
J. G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. He published his first novel, The Drowned World, in 1961. His 1984 best seller, Empire of the Sun, won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later filmed by Steven Spielberg. His memoir Miracles of Life was published in 2008. J. G. Ballard died in 2009.
©1984 J. G. Ballard (P)2014 Audible Studios
“An extraordinary achievement” (Angela Carter)
“A remarkable journey into the mind of a growing boy … horror and humanity are blended into a unique and unforgettable fiction” (Sunday Times)
“Remarkable … form, content and style fuse with complete success … one of the great war novels of the 20th century” (William Boyd)
“Gripping and remarkable … I have never read a novel which gave me a stronger sense of the blind helplessness of war … unforgettable” (Observer)
“A brilliant fusion of history, autobiography and imaginative speculation. An incredible literary achievement and almost intolerably moving” (Anthony Burgess)
“An immensely powerful novel – in a class of its own for sheer imaginative force.” (Daily Telegraph)
“Gripping and remarkable … I have never read a novel which gave me a stronger sense of the blind helplessness of war … unforgettable.” (Observer)
“Ranks with the greatest British writing on the Second World War.” (The Times)
Quite unlike anything I've read or listened to before. The characterisation is brilliant. Thematically powerful in an understated way. The tone of the narrator is ideally suited to the text.
A brilliant book that takes you on a ( sometimes harrowing) journey through China during ww2.
My own knowledge of the war was somewhat Eurocentric, this book has widened my perspective particularly in relation to Japanese Pow's and their experiences. When you hear people say, oh he never really 'came back' from the Japanese camps, ' he/ she was never the same after' this book gives us detailed insight into why this is so often the case.
Narration is absolutely spot on, it would have been spoiled by 'sentimental'reading which would have been an easy trap to fall into.
As it's written from a child's perspective it is matter of fact despite the traumatic experiences.
The sort of book ideal for long drives as you can drift in and out of the story and don't need to be constantly focussed!
"Stark and vivid."
This was not as I had expected - and not my usual choice. It is a stark and very vivid story of war time experience from a child's point of view. The narrator enhances the story to give the reader an insight into the cold and resigned emotions that develop within the child - without sensationalism or over dramatisation. Very moving and quite disturbing in parts. I would recommend this book for the quality and strength of the writing.
One of the best audiobooks I have purchased recently. Gave a very realistic description of what is must have been like in the Far East at the end of the Second World War.
I was not sure what to expect from this book. I have read other Jg Ballard novels and enjoyed them, but this is different, being based on his own experience during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in WW2. The narration is excellent, bringing life and individuality to each of the characters and expressing both Jim's youthful naivety and the protracted suffering the internees endured. Towards the end of the book I was often in tears as Jim fought to survive and make sense of his world. The reader expertly conveys Jim's fragile mental state after years of depravation and seeing so many people die. The poignant ending sees Jim return to his childhood home in the city and then embark on a journey into an uncertain future, I thoroughly recommend this book.
One of my favourite books of all time beautifully read. Highly recommended to readers of all ages.
"A great way to take the journey."
A wonderfully delivered modern classic. What more can one say. It is the Second World War from a unique - human - perspective. The life of a child in death and suffering.
I will admit that I am not new to the works of this author and until now I've kind of liked what I've read most of the time. Cocaine Nights would be the exception since it is predictable and not of Ballard's usual high class of writing. However I'm not writing about that I'm writing about Empire of the Sun. As a movie the experience would be instantly forgettable I'd think. As a book it is mind numbing and full of introspection. The reading is juvenile and the character is irritating. I know it's a child looking for his parents but even he must realize it's a pretty hopeless task and tends to point to the fact that he'll find them in the end and it'll be jsut anotehr sentimental reunion love story. As you can tell i haven't finished it yet. If however he's not reunited well it's not to be wondered at.
There are some redeeming factors about it though. The introspection of the boy alone in a hostile environment and his adventures are interesting to read. His experiences as a boy of eleven are very poignant. it would appeal to those who lived through it and were children and it will no doubt appeal to anyone wanting to read about how iut was under Japanese rule for children. Otherwise if you're looking for high drama and edge of the seat adventure this is not for you.
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