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Empire of the Sun: A Novel by J. G. Ballard
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Empire of the Sun: A Novel (original 1984; edition 1984)

by J. G. Ballard

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2,941542,811 (3.93)1 / 260
Member:othersam
Title:Empire of the Sun: A Novel
Authors:J. G. Ballard
Info:Simon & Schuster (1984), Hardcover, 279 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work details

Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard (1984)

Recently added byprivate library, mmseiple, helloeverybodyltd, sims40, TatjanaJP, mlsestak, fruittwist000, SMA_Hive, Beetiefan
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)
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English (48)  French (2)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Excerpts from my original GR review (Jan 2010):
- Ballard's 1984 historic novel.. This is a harrowing, loosely autobiographical adventure of pre-adolescent Jim Graham after the Japanese takeover of Shanghai in the immediate wake of the Pearl Harbor attack.
- Told in third-person but entirely from Jim's standpoint, this story is constant action/movement. His privileged life as the son of a British chemical company owner, complete with 'amahs' to serve them, is ruptured by the sudden invasion of the Japanese, shattering the colonial-like enclave of the international concession (or zone) within Shanghai. In the vivid mayhem of panic that ensues, he is carelessly separated from his father, roaming the streets for days afterward in a naive search for his parents. After venturing among the idyllic but abandoned homes of his neighborhood, Jim slowly realizes his parents and friends aren't coming back - that the world has really changed. (his innocent failure to grasp the disaster is touchingly painted by the author)
- Through sheer luck Jim eludes death but is soon captured and trucked to the Lunghua prisoner camp (a real place), where he remains. Jim's fascination with pilots and planes yields some good imaginings along the way, and maybe keeps him sane. Jim aligns himself, smartly, with two significant prisoners. One, Basie, is a mysterious American, who trades chores for precious food... He also is afforded a degree of protection, as well as a shadow of formal education, from the selflessly dedicated Dr Ransome, who tends to the sick and dying despite his own suffering.
- The camp conditions inevitably march toward decay and desperation, while increasing activity in the skies holds hope for salvation. Jim, aged 14 by war's end, never loses his boyish awe at events around him, as well as a fading picture of reunion with his family.
- Overall a good story, educational.., fast-paced and intimately told by Ballard. My main but significant criticism is with the dialogue, which rang untrue to me, and was too stilted for my taste. I also grew a little weary of the accumulation of bodies - pilots, soldiers, prisoners, ... at every turn. The author seemed to work too hard in painting the war-torn canvas. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | May 13, 2018 |
A young english boy is separated from his parents when Shanghai is invaded by the Japanese and spends the next 3 years surviving on the streets and in an internment camp. The knowledge that the story is drawn from the author's personal experience makes it more harrowing. I did not particularly like the childlike style of writing, but appreciate this style may have been intentional ( )
  TheWasp | Apr 28, 2018 |
Empire of the Sun. On this, the third attempt to read this novel, I have to admit defeat. I havn’t got past the first 100 or so pages but the story-line is so loose and unlikely that the facts involved get diluted to the same level. If this novel is based on JGB’s own account of his boyhood, I don’t believe it. ( )
  Novak | Oct 26, 2017 |
I had previously seen the film, but not recalled any strong details, except the image of a boy behind a wire fence and planes flying low in the sky.
This edition had notes from the author at the back, which gave some context to the story. He was so convinced that the atomic bomb was the correct way to end the war, that I put the book down, also convinced by his knowledge, against my previous thoughts. Then next morning I turned on the tv struck by the situation that we live in. I hope no-one in power comes to the same conclusion.
The book deals with the messy consequences of war in Shanghai. We don't always learn about or understand this part of the 2nd world war. Its the story of his internment as a young boy and his boys own struggle to survive the hunger and random acts of violence, committed by all sorts of people. ( )
  kk1 | Sep 7, 2017 |
Jim is 12 when World War II breaks out in Shanghai in earnest and the Europeans attempt to run away. He ends up separated from his parents and fends for himself through a series of detention centres and camps, building alliances with adults and trying find a place for himself. I've always found the title of the book fascinating but been hesitant to read it, thinking it would be a hard read. It wasn't: it was unflinching but very matter-of-fact. ( )
  mari_reads | Mar 2, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J.G. Ballardprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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