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Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard
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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
2,647502,258 (3.92)1 / 229
  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)
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English (44)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (50)
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
At first I was just perplexed by this semi-autobiographical novel. I couldn't pick up on what the author was driving at, and why he had chosen to write this novel, especially from that perspective.

And then it was like, oh! And suddenly I found myself so engaged - both intellectually and emotionally - that I actually felt a bit daft for not seeing it before. The sheer institutionalisation that the main character exhibits and the lack of anything concrete for him to hold onto - "the Japanese/British/Americans are good/bad/indifferent" - was incredibly heartbreaking and a testament to the horrors of war. Ballard's writing also picks up the pace beautifully. Definitely a book I'll revisit.
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
I read this as a tween, and mostly what I remember is that everyone was starving and there was a scene involving pus. ::shudder:: Undoubtedly a well-written and insightful novel, but all I took away from it was the horror. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
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» 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
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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.
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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

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