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Book Information: Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun (1984) [Novel]
by J. G. Ballard Rating: Weighted - 7.5 / Average - 7.5 of 10 (4 votes) (Rate!)
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Summary :

Based on the author's experiences living in China during World War II.

Original title: Empire of the Sun
Original languages: English


Genre: FictionHistoricalAsia
FictionHistoricalWorld War IIGeneral
FictionGeneral Fiction

Edition #1: Empire of the Sun

Empire of the Sun (1984)
Edition Details:

Language: English

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Manifested in:

Empire of the Sun (March 1, 2005)

Format: Paperback
Place of publication: New York
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9780743265232
Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7
Pages: 279
Notes (From the publisher): Wars came early to Shanghai, overtaking each other like the tides that raced up the Yangtze and returned to this gaudy city all the coffins that cast adrift from the funeral pyres of the Chinese Bund...It was 1941, the eve of Pearl Harbor. A restless eleven-year-old British schoolboy whom we meet and know only as "Jim" senses the coming of war all around him in this cosmopolitan, cruel Shanghai which he observes largely through the windows of his family's chauffeured limousine. Newsreels of the European war, the rising agitation of the occupying Japanese military, rumors at garden parties and school-all raise his excited anticipation. Thus we are led into "Empire of the Sun," one of the most extraordinary novels ever written of war and human survival.

Jim, the entire focus and viewpoint of the book, is in reality, the author. Described by Susan Sontag as "one of the most important, intelligent voices in contemporary fiction," J.G. Ballard is writing here of his own boyhood experience in a total departure from the futuristic fiction that he has secured his reputation. That he renders this experience as a brilliant tapestry of life on the brink of humanity-beyond its real, however remarkable circumstances-makes the book of enormous power and compelling artistry.

Through Jim's piercing vision, we witness the chaotic outbreak of the war. Separated from his parents, forced to forage alone in the luxurious, now hauntingly abandoned foreign quarters of the city, Jim survives for more than two months, his solitary domain a succession of darkened drawing rooms and empty swimming pools. But with the loss of his bicycle and the exhaustion of his stores of canned food, he is compelled to forgo his independence, at first joining forces with a pair of maverick American sailors, and then, upon their attempt to betray him into slavery, by surrendering to the Japanese.

For the next three years Jim is interred a few miles from Shanghai as one of thousands of foreign civilians in the notorious Japanese prison camp of Lunghua. Sustained by hyperactivity that becomes one of the wonders of the camp, his febrile imagination intoxicated by the air war in the skies above and on the airfield adjacent to the prison, Jim not only maintains his own survival but is instrumental in preserving the lives of fellow internees. With the Japanese cause clearly lost, Lunghua is evacuated and its prisoners herded on a death march to an Olympic stadium on the outskirts of the city; and it's there amid the confiscated furnishings and ex animate automobiles of his home district that Jim witnesses the dawning of the second sun; the nimbus of Nagasaki exploding in the northeast sky, signaling the end of one war and presaging the Damoclean sword under which he will live thereafter.

Eventually, though still with a number of harrowing tests to be met, Jim is reunited with his parents. We see him last about to embark for his native England, making one final tour of the again "terrible city: where history is about to hum once more, now with the approach of Mao Tse-tung's Red Army. And we have shared a saga of such indelible images, such profound meaning and dramatic sweep, as to defy comparison to any other contemporary novel.

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Empire of the Sun (1984)

ISBN: 0671530518

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