Ò Empire of the Sun ✓ Download by ç J.G. Ballard I read Ballard s semi autobiographical account of his interment as a child and teenager in a Japanese camp outside of Shanghai while I was still at school and before I had read any of his fiction.
As I later read a few of his novels I had a slow and growing sense of how his adult fiction drew upon that early experience described in this memoir in both the world turned upside down story which resurfaces in several of Ballard s later novels and the oddly half affectionate tone of the child narrator for the Japanese even in the internment camp there is an incident when he is being taught trigonometry and he asks the Doctor who is teaching him if he should show the Japanese guards his sums so that they could improve their targeting of incoming American bomber planes, striking is the strange atmosphere as the young Ballard watches Kamikaze pilots walking about the airfield that borders the internment camp before they depart on their missions.
Novels like The Drowned World and The Drought reinterpret the childhood experience in a way to make it explicable to adult readers who didn t grow up in Shanghai before the Second World War and didn t live through the collapse of seemingly concrete family and power structures, the complete transformation of one way of life for another, the metaphor that Ballard has used is that this is like a set change, and therefore the way that familiar, everyday life is just a piece of theatre If it appears permanent and unchanging this is only because the curtain hasn t fallen yet Perhaps something of this idea underlies the popularity of a certain kind of disaster literature and drama whether of vampires, zombies or alien invaders that there is a true fundamental set of values beneath the surface of everyday modern life in which problems can be resolved directly and in a natural manful way by shooting at them It can follow that there is even an eagerness for a disaster, any disaster provided it is destructive enough, to clear away contemporary civilisation I think Ballard s view is slightly different His point, I suspect, is that the world of the camp is as in substantial as the international community of 1930s Shanghai or of post war south west London When the Yangtze river flooded, the young Ballard could see that the land around Shanghai had became an inland sea, once the flood waters had ebbed Shanghai was surrounded once by arable land Both conditions were equally real, both subject to the functioning of the environment Nudge that environment, and you see that glistening cityscape as a house of cards.
A gem of a memoir Richer than Spielberg s film though he did an excellent job with the material Mesmerizing from start to finish.
JG Ballard s Empire of the Sun is a compelling and engaging novel written from the perspective of a boy held prisoner by the Japanese during WWII Really fantastic storytelling Not sure I was prepared for the power of this book It s both understated and profound in its insights I ended up reading 4 JG Ballard novels this April Empire of the Sun couldn t have been different from these other novels Atrocity Exhibition, High Rise and Concrete Island I m not even sure I can reconcile Empire of the Sun and The Atrocity Exhibition as works written by the same author I will probably continue to think of Ballard as the innovative author of speculative or dystopian literature, but Wow, Empire of the Sun makes its own mark Some parts seemed a bit drawn out than necessary, but still a fantastic story about Ballard s experiences and about war and survival 4.
5 stars.
This outstanding novel seems to be so out of line with Ballard s other notoriously magical maniacal work this detail is fantastic He is soon to become one of my all time favorites his prose is as crisp and perfect as Graham Greene s For a prophetic writer to go back to his roots, all the way back to Shanghai being wholly obliterated in the second World War this guile is the type required to write your magnum opus , although I haven t read all his work though MOST I have , I can safely say that this one is it Empire of the Sun looks at the terrors of war through the eyes of a very authentic, very endearing boy His observations are spot on he quickly becomes useful to many out on the war fields he notices that, sometimes, being under the dragon s wing is precisely the tactic needed to survive he thinks in tragic terms, digesting the horror for us amply, becoming a truly unforgettable character through it all Like Suite Francoise s Irene Nemirovsky, Ballard s own personal involvement in WWII embellishes fulfills the authentic aspect of the book If they had not survived the war although, tragically, Nemirovsky did not , we would not have their fine FINE work.
And this would not be a J G Ballard with no looming prophecy The last page SPOILER contains the following Nostradamus like statement One day China would punish the rest of the world and take a frightening revenge.
Hmm, three or four stars This was good, but I don t think I ll read it again On the other hand, that particular feeling does not say that this was a mediocre book But that personal gut reaction is what I tend to use for star ratings four stars means I would like to or wouldn t mind reading it again Five stars are books I feel the need to own So this is a three star review, but it is probably a better book than that.
Note The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement You can read why I came to this decision here.
In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook



I don t know whether it s a mistake to read all the other things this great SF author has read first and THEN read this brilliant WWII novel of a young kid lost in Shanghai during the Japanese occupation or whether it might be best to see all the wildness of his short stories, longer fictions, and utter fascination with flying and emotional deadening in the middle of tragedy FIRST Or whether everyone and anyone with even a slight interest in reading one of the very best novels of the war should drop everything else on their list and jump right into this.
I admit I watched the Spielberg film back in the day, utterly fascinated and totally identifying with Jim, the main character, who just happened to be played by a young Christian Bale, admitting that while this kind of movie was NOTHING like the kinds of movies or books I preferred, and yet falling for it completely right down to the dead eyed stares after so much starvation, death, and Jim s last vestiges of innocent wonder and miracles retained throughout the very worst that humanity has to offer.
I ve seen the movie like four times.
And yet, I only just now read the book AFTER having read several others by the same author AND the complete short story collection.
I FEEL LIKE A DAMN FOOL.
Maybe I should have started with this It s brilliant No two ways about it I broke down into tears and was amazed by how much further the book takes it even after KNOWING what to expect from the movie.
I m not exactly NEW to this genre I shouldn t have been affected this hard I shouldn t have had to stop the book for several minutes at a time because I couldn t breathe right It was just almost too much for me Emotionally I m wrecked.
Sure, the movie is a good intro or perhaps a companion to this brilliant novel, but by NO MEANS should the novel be skipped It s just one of those brilliant classics that may be regarded as timeless.
No pressure, right I should have listened to my brother He said last year that because Crash 1973 published elicited strong, even if negative, reaction from me, then it meant J G Ballard 1930 2009 was a genius That book was disgusting I hated almost everything about the story Up to now I cannot get over the characters that hurt themselves by crashing their cars and there is that part where the hole in the body is bleeding and to stop the blood from flowing, an erect penis has to be inserted Holy cow I had no second thought when I clicked a lone star rating Here s to you, BallardHmmpf This is my second novel by J G Ballard 1930 2009 and I still clicked a lone star but four turned into yellow Here s to you, Ballard , but this time, Wow, it is with full of admiration to his talent God bless my brother He is right J G Ballard is a genius and to what he had to undergo during his 3 year stay as a child in Lunghua Concentration Camp in Shanghai during WWII Yes, this novel about Ballard as an 11 year old boy, a son of a wealthy British businessman in Shanghai, who got separated from his parents and had to endure 3 years surviving all by himself in various camps.
What makes this quite different from the war stories seen in a child s perspective is Ballard s prose It is so detailed yet it is devoid of commentaries Ballard only describes what the child Jim sees almost without emotions There is just a single scene when Jim sheds a tear and it is mentioned only in a single short sentence It feels like Ballard would like his reader to experience Jim s sad and dangerous flight in a child s perspective rather than an adult s with built in biases and prejudices Ballard was British but he neither depicted Japanese nor Chinese as evil and British nor American as good men In fact, Jim feels safer with Japanese soldiers ironic really from an Allied adult s perspective than being with British or American Japanese soldiers ignore his surrender and feed him food while he roams starving around Shanghai, he thinks that Japanese soldiers are braver than British because Shanghai was captured, he dreams of becoming a pilot and thinks that his young Japanese friend will teach him how to fly War in the eyes of a child Think Anne Frank not in the hiding but in an open concentration camp Jim did not die even if he stayed 3 years in Lunghua His desire to see his parents again was just so strong that he held on to this dream and it made his body strong despite of the extreme hunger surviving in boiled rice and sweet potatoes , disease malaria, dysentery, infections, etc , loneliness and physical abuse As always, the book is better than the movie I remember that in the movie, there is that boring part inside the concentration camp The reason is that it is impossible for Spielberg to capture those small details in that part without probably extending the movie to maybe five hours However, the ending in the movie, in my opinion, is better than the book I don t want to put a spoiler so I will not tell you why.
Empire of the Sun is by far the best war book I have read Not that I am a big reader of war books at all I tend to avoid the fiction books as I have found over the years that no matter the imagination of the author, war was entirely gruesome, graphic and even funnier than anything that could eventuate from one human mind I find most war fiction embarrassing and trite.
However, while Empire of the Sun could be classed as a memoir, the author freely admits that his experiences are not exactly the same as young Jim, the protagonist of this tale I guess most memoirs stretch the truth and make adjustments from reality to suit the format, J.
G has just admitted that he went a little further Here Jim loses contact with his parents early in the novel during a siege on the city and we know that J.
G was interned with his parents in real life Maybe there is fiction than non fiction here and I may need to eat my words.
There is so much to love in here, but I think this book may not be for everyone Firstly, this book is pretty graphic in it s description of Jim s surroundings There are realistic descriptions of corpses, death and disease throughout But it s never gratuitous and it s always frank It s not a novel with an uplifting tale of adversity Yes, you could make a great guess that Jim survives the ordeal, but does he or anyone overcome adversity Not at all This is definitely not a rallying book You do not cheer on the good guys And despite what Hollywood would make you think, you do not cheer on the end of the war.
And I think that is one of the big messages of the book War does not start on a declaration and it does not end with a surrender.
You do not flip the war coin to find peace written in shiny silver letters It seems to be that the happiest years of young Jim s life were when he was eating one sweet potato a day, slowly wasting away, getting every disease that came his way all the while running around an internement camp idolising the Japanese pilots and ingratiating himself to the Japanese officer in charge of the camp Throughout the book Jim wants the Japanese to win the war and does not see how they can lose it because they have the bravest soldiers in his opinion J.
G really does capture the naive innocence yet canny and literal understanding that children have Adult speech is littered with sarcasm, exaggeration and metaphors that children take literally Only their observations of the world around them hold true Jim knows when someone is about to die in the camp hospital as they were given the one and only mosquito net And yet he could not understand when the war had ended nor could he understand why the next war hadn t started when everyone in the camp was saying The next World War will start soon in reference to the communist rising.
The fact that Jim adapts to his life much than any adult is unsurprising So, for me, this is a damn magnificent read I valued the look at war from a child s perspective I also learnt that the end of war can be worse than war itself and the story is far from over when the diplomats shake hands and documents are signed.
I listened to this on Audible It was narrated by Steven Pacey same last name as one of the main characters and he did a brilliant job.
253 Empire of the Sun, J.
G BallardThe novel recounts the story of a young British boy, Jamie Graham named after Ballard s two first names, James Graham , who lives with his parents in Shanghai After the Pearl Harbor attack, Japan occupies the Shanghai International Settlement, and in the following chaos Jim becomes separated from his parents and , Empire of the Sun is a 1984 novel by English writer J G Ballard 2012 1374 403 20 1382 432 35 1388 9789643621445 1395 1937.
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 ChinaJim Is Separated From His Parents In A World At War To Survive, He Must Find A Deep Strength Greater Than All The Events That Surround HimShanghai, 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 Warand The Dawn Of A Blighted WorldBallard 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