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When We Were Orphans (2000)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,6121321,829 (3.47)295
"England, 1930s. Christopher Banks has become the country's most celebrated detective, his cases the talk of London society. Yet one unsolved crime always haunted him: the mysterious disappearance of his parents, in Old Shanghai, when he was a small boy. Now, as the world lurches towards total war, Banks realizes that the time has come for him to return to the city of his childhood and at last solve the mystery - that only by doing so will civilization be saved from the approaching catastrophe." "Moving between London and Shanghai of the inter-war years, When We Were Orphans is a story of memory, intrigue and the need to return: of a childhood vision of the world surviving deep into adulthood, indelibly shaping and distorting a person's life."--Jacket.… (more)
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» See also 295 mentions

English (121)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  French (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (131)
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
It took a while to realize that the narrator was not entirely reliable and at that point I was getting fed up with the "important case" that everyone was supposed to stop and help with. I was never sure exactly which evil it was that this case was supposed to deal with. But overall I thought the book was wonderfully written and it had me caught up entirely, so for me, it was a very good read. ( )
  dvoratreis | May 22, 2024 |
This book was truly disappointing. I wanted to like it. It started off with a very promising storyline, but around a third of the way through the book it became clear that it wasn't going to pan out, and the end of the book was excruciating. Quite simply the plot, character development, and main character himself were all terrible. Very few of the motivations of characters' actions made sense, and the story itself wasn't compelling because it was so nonsensical.

After The Remains of the Day, I had assumed Ishiguro was a generically good writer, and that I would enjoy most of his books. Now I realize that Ishiguro is only worth reading when his topic is good. The Remains of the Day, while simple plot-wise, was the correct style of book for him to write. The plot lent itself naturally to the protagonist's introspection, and little needed to happen over the course of the book for it to remain compelling. When We Were Orphans, on the other hand, was set up initially as a very plot driven book to that point that it could not retain itself unless the speed and intrigue of the plot were maintained. I think Ishiguro's writing does not lend itself to this style, as the second half of this book demonstrates. ( )
  mrbearbooks | Apr 22, 2024 |
Obviously, I have a big book crush on Ishiguro. When We Were Orphans isn't my favorite of his, but I did cry like a baby at the end. What is it about his books that gets to me? If I had to boil it down, I'd say it's that they're these beautiful tragedies. And (is this getting too sloppy?) that's what kills me about life. It's sad. It's beautiful. Gosh. I might start crying right now just thinking about it. ( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
A very gripping story from an extremely interesting setting. ( )
  c1nnamongirl | Aug 11, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
When We Were Orphans may well be Ishiguro's most capacious book so far, in part because it stitches together his almost microscopic examination of self-delusion, as it plays out in lost men, with a much larger, often metaphorical look at complacency on a national scale.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Pico Iyer (pay site) (Oct 5, 2000)
 
Christopher Banks is a fashionable society detective, solving fashionably ghastly crimes in 1930s England. In his past, however, there is an unsolved and traumatic crime which continues to torment him. He was brought up in Shanghai, with a father heavily involved in Western complicity in the importation of opium
added by bergs47 | editThe Guardian, Philip Hensher (Mar 19, 2000)
 
Das neue Buch ist eine Überraschung. Denn es kommt so ganz anders daher, es tut so, als werde hier einmal Handfestes geboten, ein Kriminalfall! Ein Kind verliert seine Eltern. Ein schreckliches Familiendrama. Eine historische Erzählung, die sich im China der Opiumkriege entfaltet, Kolonialismus, Bandenkrieg, es birgt, natürlich, auch die Geschichte einer vergeblichen Liebe, und es gehört zum Abenteuerlichen dieser Lektüre, dass wir alle paar Seiten der Illusion erliegen, nun aber endlich zu erahnen, worauf wir uns hier einzulassen haben. Ahnungen, die uns mit dem Wenden einer Seite weggeschlagen werden, was die Gedanken nicht unangenehm verwirrt, so wie wenn die Achterbahn abrupt die Richtung wechselt und es uns herumschleudert und wir die Gravidität der Gehirnmasse kribbelnd spüren. Kein Wunder, es ist die Lebensgeschichte eines Verrückten.
 

» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kazuo Ishiguroprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brown, JanePhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was the summer of 1923, the summer I came down from Cambridge, when despite my aunt's wishes that I return to Shropshire, I decided my future lay in the capital and took up a small flat at Number 14b Bedford Gardens in Kensington.
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"England, 1930s. Christopher Banks has become the country's most celebrated detective, his cases the talk of London society. Yet one unsolved crime always haunted him: the mysterious disappearance of his parents, in Old Shanghai, when he was a small boy. Now, as the world lurches towards total war, Banks realizes that the time has come for him to return to the city of his childhood and at last solve the mystery - that only by doing so will civilization be saved from the approaching catastrophe." "Moving between London and Shanghai of the inter-war years, When We Were Orphans is a story of memory, intrigue and the need to return: of a childhood vision of the world surviving deep into adulthood, indelibly shaping and distorting a person's life."--Jacket.

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Privatdetektiven Christopher Banks har opklaret talrige sager i det londonske society. Men der er stadig en sag han ikke har kunnet løse. Under sin opvækst i Shanghai forsvandt hans forældre sporløst. Nu, i slutningen af 1930erne på kanten af 2. verdenskrig, indser Banks at han må tilbage til Østen

The novel is about a British man named Christopher Banks who used to live in the Shanghai of colonial China in the early 1900s, but when his father, an opium businessman, and his mother disappear within an interval of a few weeks, Christopher is sent away to live with his aunt in Britain. Christopher vows to become a detective in order to solve the case of his parents' disappearance, and he achieves this goal through ruthless determination. His fame as a private investigator soon spreads, and in the late 1930s he returns to China to solve the most important case of his life. The impression is given that if he solves this case, a world catastrophe will be averted but it is not apparent how. As Christopher pursues his investigation, the boundaries between fact and fantasy begin to evaporate.
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