When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro (2000)

Christopher grew up in the International Settlement in Shanghai in the 1910s. His father suddenly disappears one day, and not long after, his mother also disappears, leaving Christopher as an orphan. He is shipped off to England where he eventually becomes a famous detective. He goes back to Shanghai on the brink of the Japanese invasion in 1937 to solve the case of his missing parents.

After spent weeks reading crime novels, I wanted to read something entirely different. My sister had disorganised my bookshelf at home completely, so the only book I could find that I hadn’t read yet, was this. I sighed when I read the back cover, but decided to give it a try on the airport. And I’m glad I did. It is not a crime novel, more like figuring out the past.

It took me a while before I got into the story, but then I really did. And although the story never amazed me, it’s been haunting me all day. I can’t really put my finger on why, though. Maybe it is the lost opportunities of love, or the sadness of the orphans, both Christopher and Jennifer, the orphaned girl he takes care of.

It was great to revisit the setting of Shanghai during the Japanese invasion, having previously done so in Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard. I definitely want to read more novels set in this time, so if you know any, let me know.

2 thoughts on “twenty-six.

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