Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard

Empire of the Sun (1984)

by J. G. Ballard

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Empire of the Sun (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,624482,280 (3.93)1 / 221
Recently added byJohnHLowery, private library, thebookmagpie, hoegbottom, Tonyh., ltcl, KaraLettura, Calyre
Legacy LibrariesLeslie Scalapino
  1. 10
    The Kindness of Women by J. G. Ballard (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: The follow-up to Empire of the Sun.
  2. 00
    That Eye, the Sky by Tim Winton (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: Empire of the Sun can be paired with That Eye, the Sky by Tim Winton or Harper Lee's To kill a Mockingbird. In all three books the authors speak through the childhoods of their main characters.
  3. 01
    Children of Hiroshima by Arata Osada (bertilak)
  4. 01
    The Way of a Boy: A Memoir of Java by Ernest Hillen (slickdpdx)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (42)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Great book and one of those which encouraged to write my novels of this time and place ( )
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  Tonyh. | Jan 27, 2016 |
Very good but very disturbing. It definetely captured the immense mental struggle to stay alive that Jim went through but it was also so very grim and upsetting that it was a very hard read. Rewarding, overall, but hard. Looking forward to a bit lighter read next.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
I came late to J. G. Ballard. Like many, my first introduction to him came when Spielberg turned this semi-autobiographical memoir Empire of the Sun into a terrific film starring a young Christian Bale. Though I didn't go looking for it, when I ran across a copy in a used bookshop, I didn't hesitate to pick it up.

The book, of course, tells the story of a young English boy, the son of a diplomat stationed in Shanghai, who is separated from his parents in the confusion of the Japanese takeover of China after the Pearl Harbor bombing. The boy spends the rest of the war in a series of prison camps, learning along the way to fend for himself.

The film itself pays remarkably fealty to the novel, with the exception I suppose that the book takes things just a bit further, with young Jamie saying farewell to China and moving to England (a country both he and the young J. G. Ballard had never been to). I was delighted to learn afterward there was a sequel, finding a paperback copy of The Kindness of Women in that very same used bookshop, and it is to this day one of the best books I've ever read.

After that came the easy ones that can be found in most any bookstore: Rushing to Paradise, in which a group of idealistic environmentalists decide to create their own society on a tropical island with disastrous (and predictable) results; Crash (later made into a film by David Cronenberg) in which Ballard himself is the main character, who becomes strangely fixated on (and stimulated by) automobile crashes; and Concrete Jungle, a brilliant updating of Robinson Crusoe, in which a man's car veers off a heavily traveled highway and down into a ravine.

Some of his earlier works were more difficult to find. I bought High Rise on ebay, a horrific tale in which the somewhat laconic main character watches his condominium building turn into an adult and urban Lord of the Flies. Paperbacks of The Drowning World, The Burning World, and The Wind from Nowhere soon followed, and only then did I learn that Ballard's earliest work established him as one of the finest apocalyptic writers of his day.

I picked up book club editions of the short story collections Chronopolis and The Crystal World from my trusty used bookshop (The Crystal World has a wonderful Max Ernst dustjacket, enhancing the value of the first edition, should you be lucky enough to have one.)

The last Ballard I read was his collection of essays titled A User's Guide to the Millennium, in which he opines on topics as varied as Andy Warhol and the Marquis de Sade.

At any rate, there are still some Ballard's I have yet to absorb, and for that, I am grateful. ( )
2 vote BrendanPMyers | Jun 23, 2014 |
This is a story of survival during World War 2 through the eyes of a young boy. Young Jim is living in China during the outbreak of the war with Japan and he becomes seperated from his parents. Aged 11 he makes his way to and from Shanghai, encountering Japanese pilots and American airmen.Eventually he is interred in a prison camp where life becomes really hard and he encounters death, both of his allies and the Japanese. Young Jim is confused, not sure what the war is all about and who the enemy is. Time passes, friends die or move away and Jim becomes dissilusioned by the varying reports on the war in the copies of Time and Reader's Digest that he treasures. Jim moves from camp to camp surviving on meagre offerings of sweet potato and rice, constantly asking those around him if the war is over, and if a new one will start. He identifies with the Japanese soldiers, there is something about him that he admires which stays with him even after seeing their rough treatment of his inmates.

I had seen the film years ago and really enjoyed it, and although I've had the book on my shelf for years, it's only now that I got round to reading it.
The boy in the story is a representation of Ballard himself-it is almost an autobiography while reading like a great war story.
Reading this book it was easy for me to see how these experiences as a young boy would inform the author's later dystopian novels that would make him famous. The dank and dreary paddy fields of war torn China are somewhat similar to the rampant boggy jungles of England in his 'The Drowned World' from the 60s.
In both stories groups of people are struggling to survive in a changed world.
Good one! ( )
1 vote sf_addict | May 24, 2014 |

This is a tremendous novel, based of course on real life, about the experiences of a boy surviving Shanghai during the Japanese occupation if the Second World War. It's brutal and awful, yet the protagonist's innocence gives the whole narrative a vivid foundation, slightly distanced from the awful world of the adults, yet focused on important details like how many maggots you can eat to remain healthy. The descriptions are vivid and visceral, and the human interactions in desperate circumstances all too plausible. ( )
  nwhyte | Mar 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J. G. Ballardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bouman, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doyle, PatCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ligtenberg, LucasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nieman, ChristophCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Wars came early to Shanghai, overtaking each other like the tides that raced up the Tangtze and returned to this gaudy city all the coffins cast adrift from the funeral piers of the Chinese Bund.
James had told his parents nothing of all this. Nor had he confided in Dr. Ransome, who clearly suspected that Jim had chosen to stay on at Lunghua after the armistice, playing his games of war and death.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Information from the Catalan Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743265238, Paperback)

The classic, award-winning novel, made famous by Steven Spielberg's film, tells of a young boy's struggle to survive World War II in China.

Jim is separated from his parents in a world at war. To survive, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him.

Shanghai, 1941 -- a city aflame from the fateful torch of Pearl Harbor. In streets full of chaos and corpses, a young British boy searches in vain for his parents. Imprisoned in a Japanese concentration camp, he is witness to the fierce white flash of Nagasaki, as the bomb bellows the end of the war...and the dawn of a blighted world.

Ballard's enduring novel of war and deprivation, internment camps and death marches, and starvation and survival is an honest coming-of-age tale set in a world thrown utterly out of joint.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:39 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Jim, an eleven-year-old British schoolboy living in Shanghai in 1941, must learn to survive on his own when he is separated from his parents and sent to a Japanese prison camp.

» see all 8 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
36 avail.
74 wanted
4 pay3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.93)
1 5
1.5 2
2 14
2.5 7
3 107
3.5 38
4 189
4.5 34
5 132


2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 103,154,239 books! | Top bar: Always visible