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When We Were Orphans: Kazuo Ishiguro (Vintage International) - Softcover

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9780375724404: When We Were Orphans: Kazuo Ishiguro (Vintage International)
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From the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prize-winning novel The Remains of the Day comes this stunning work of soaring imagination.

Born in early-twentieth-century Shanghai, Banks was orphaned at the age of nine after the separate disappearances of his parents. Now, more than twenty years later, he is a celebrated figure in London society; yet the investigative expertise that has garnered him fame has done little to illuminate the circumstances of his parents' alleged kidnappings. Banks travels to the seething, labyrinthine city of his memory in hopes of solving the mystery of his own, painful past, only to find that war is ravaging Shanghai beyond recognition-and that his own recollections are proving as difficult to trust as the people around him.

Masterful, suspenseful and psychologically acute, When We Were Orphans offers a profound meditation on the shifting quality of memory, and the possibility of avenging one's past.

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Review:
"... I've worked hard over the years to check the spread of crime and evil wherever it has manifested itself."
Christopher Banks, the protagonist of Kazuo Ishiguro's fifth novel, When We Were Orphans, has dedicated his life to detective work but behind his successes lies one unsolved mystery: the disappearance of his parents when he was a small boy living in the International Settlement in Shanghai. Moving between England and China in the inter-war period, the book, encompassing the turbulence and political anxieties of the time and the crumbling certainties of a Britain deeply involved in the opium trade in the East, centres on Banks's idealistic need to make sense of the world through the small victories of detection and his need to understand finally what happened to his mother and father.

This new novel, however, is the deliberate antithesis of the classic English detective story--the hermetic country-house worlds of Agatha Christie, the classic "locked room" puzzles in which order and sanity is restored at the story's end. Ishiguro mimics the functional style and clipped speech patterns of the genre, ironising its reliance on melodrama and stereotype, while developing a narrative of subtlety, great emotional depth, and political and cultural acuity: what we get is a negative image of classic detective fiction, in which the solved crimes are mentioned in passing and the real mystery is played out in the psychology of the detective himself. The act of detection, Ishiguro suggests, is one we all perform on our own past, struggling to marshal clues and evidence whilst trying to construct the story of ourselves; the one mystery Banks seems unable to solve is his own.

If Ishiguro's concerns as a writer remain broadly the same as in previous novels such as his Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day--the complexities, instability and elusiveness of memory, dramatised through a first-person narrator--this new book shows how flexible and powerful the form has become for him. Banks' quest is both deeply personal and resonantly emblematic of us all:

...for those like us, our fate is to face the world as orphans, chasing through long years the shadows of vanished parents. There is nothing for it but to try and see through our missions to the end, as best we can, for until we do so, we will be permitted no calm.

When We Were Orphans is an astonishing book, rich and profound on many levels, and one that will live clearly in the memory of all who read it. --Burhan Tufail

Review:
"Swift, compelling, moving, irresistible."
--The Baltimore Sun

"Goes much further than even The Remains of the Day in its examination of the roles we've had handed to us... His fullest achievement yet."
--The New York Times Book Review

"You seldom read a novel that so convinces you it is extending the possibilities of fiction."
--Sunday Times (London)

"Poignant... When We Were Orphans may well be Ishiguro's most capacious book so far."
--Pico Iyer, The New York Review of Books

"[A]n imaginative work of surpassing intelligence and taste."
--Joyce Carol Oates, Times Literary Supplement

"With his characteristic finesse, Mr. Ishiguro infuses what seems like a classic adventure story with an ineffable tinge of strangeness."
--The Wall Street Journal

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  • PublisherVintage
  • Publication date2017
  • ISBN 10 0375724400
  • ISBN 13 9780375724404
  • BindingPaperback
  • Edition number1
  • Number of pages352
  • Rating
    3.53 avg rating
    ( 40,416 ratings by Goodreads )

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Book Description Paperback. Condition: new. Paperback. From the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prizewinning novel The Remains of the Day comes this stunning work of soaring imagination. Born in early-twentieth-century Shanghai, Banks was orphaned at the age of nine after the separate disappearances of his parents. Now, more than twenty years later, he is a celebrated figure in London society; yet the investigative expertise that has garnered him fame has done little to illuminate the circumstances of his parents' alleged kidnappings. Banks travels to the seething, labyrinthine city of his memory in hopes of solving the mystery of his own, painful past, only to find that war is ravaging Shanghai beyond recognition-and that his own recollections are proving as difficult to trust as the people around him. Masterful, suspenseful and psychologically acute, When We Were Orphans offers a profound meditation on the shifting quality of memory, and the possibility of avenging ones past. During the Sino-Japanese War, a young man returns to Shanghai to solve the mystery of his parents' disappearance some 20 years earlier. From the Booker Prize-winning, bestselling author of "The Remains of the Day" comes this work of soaring imagination, a "New York Times" Notable Book. Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. Seller Inventory # 9780375724404

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