When We Were Orphans

When We Were Orphans

Book - 2001
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Christopher Banks, an English boy who was orphaned after his parents disappeared in Shanghai under suspicious circumstances, returns to Shanghai twenty years later in the hopes of learning what really happened to his parents.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, a divsion of Random House, Inc., 2001
Copyright Date: ©2000
ISBN: 9780375724404
Characteristics: 335 pages ; 20 cm


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Feb 09, 2018

A very British narration with the main character Christopher Banks whose instrospection and reflection describe the intent of Ishiguro's story. Thus said, "I suppose it was, at least in part, my attempt as an adult to grasp the nature of those forces which as a child I could not have had the chance of comprehending. It was also my intention to prepare my ground for the day I began in earnest my investigations into the whole affair concerning my parents...." The writer takes us from country to country and past to present in a way that, although choppy at times, leads us to an interesting end.

Jun 12, 2017

Remains of the Day was good, the film better.
His other books I found hugely disappointing.

Aug 04, 2016

A awkward book about an awkward man and some key elements of his life. About two thirds of the book is slow, sensitive, and highly introspective, and the last third is odd: suspenseful and the naivety of Banks is crystal clear. The penultimate paragraph is truly great, it could have been written by Willa Cather.

Nov 26, 2015

Selected for the Logan Central Monday Book Club in 2016. For a full list of 2016 selections, see the Logan Central Monday Book Club list.

Apr 26, 2015

Thru Chap 8

theorbys Jan 30, 2015

Revisiting many of the themes of Unconsoled, and despite his obvious writing skills, this novel falls flat. I thought Unconsoled was a good 200 pages too long, and that this novel, 200 pages shorter than the Unconsoled, might be just right. But sadly it's a good 100 pages too long.

Apr 14, 2014

Another masterpiece from Ishiguro. This time his main character is Christopher Banks, a Shanghai-born man of British desendant, who fashions himself as a Sherlock Holmes to rescue his long-disappeared parents and save the world from war. Banks is the epitome of British colonialism during the opium wars in China, his selective or distorted memory aiding in his denial of the facts.

Reviewed: 12 November 2006

Don27 Sep 01, 2013

A gripping, perceptive wonderful story. Ishiguro takes us seamlessly from Shanghai to England and back again. I felt for the narrator. Ishiguro has an interesting writing style. He keeps us away a little, but that works here. A rewarding read.

Jul 16, 2012

This was a bookclub read that just didn't hook me. The narrator was unreliable and that was frustrating!

Jul 07, 2012

The book has its classic tone and rhythm Ishiguro has excelled in "The Remains of the Day". It has even been shortlisted for a book prize. It includes, however, the historical episode of the English selling opium to the Chinese, and this can displease certain sensibilities. The epiphany of the narrator that all his well-being in England - private school, moderately high income, opportunity to choose an interesting profession - has been built on profits from opium trade, this epiphany fits into the well-known model of rich countries exploiting poor countries. This might be disturbing, depending on the political viewpoint, even though facts are scrupulously true.

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Mar 27, 2016

I have become increasingly preoccupied with my memories, a preoccupation encouraged by the discovery that these memories - of my childhood, of my parents - have lately begun to blur. A number of times recently I have found myself struggling to recall something that only two or three years ago I believed was ingrained in my mind forever. I have been obliged to accept, in other words, that with each passing year, my life in Shanghai will grow less distinct, until one day all that will remain will be a few muddled images. p.70

Feb 12, 2012

"...And those of us whose duty it is to combat evil, we are... how might I put it? We're like the twine that holds together the slats of a wooden blind. Should we fail to hold strong, then everything will scatter..."


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