Empire of the Sun
J. G. Ballard
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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 China.
Jim is separated from his parents in a world at war. To survive, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him.
Shanghai, 1941—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 war...and the dawn of a blighted world.
Ballard’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.
apartment blocks behind the port area of Shanghai. To Jim’s amazement, Herr Frankel and Vera’s mother existed in one room. ‘Vera, where do your parents live?’ Jim knew the answer, but decided to risk the ruse. ‘Do they live in a house?’ ‘They live in one room, James.’ ‘One room!’ To Jim this was inconceivable, far more bizarre than anything in the Superman and Batman comics. ‘How big is the room? As big as my bedroom? As big as this house?’ ‘As big as your dressing-room. James, some people
were twenty Chinese women, dressed in black tunics and trousers, each on a miniature stool. They sat shoulder to shoulder, weeding knives flashing at the grass, while keeping up an unstoppable chatter. Behind them Dr Lockwood’s lawn lay like green shantung. ‘Hello, Jamie. Cogitating again?’ Mr Maxted, father of his best friend, emerged from the verandah. A solitary but amiable figure in a sharkskin suit, who faced reality across the buffer of a large whisky and soda, he stared down his cigar at
truck began to run noisily. The Japanese soldiers had come down from the stands and were forming themselves into a march party. Pairs of guards climbed the tail-gates, cotton masks over their faces. Helped by three English prisoners, Dr Ransome lifted down those patients either dead or too ill to continue the day’s journey. They. lay in the tyre-ruts that scored the grass, as if trying to fold the soft earth around themselves. Jim squatted beside Mr Maxted, working his diaphragm like a bellows.
bodies on the soft grass. Jim’s arms ached from the effort of pumping. He waited for Dr Ransome to jump down from the hospital truck and look after Mr Maxted. However, the three vehicles were already leaving the stadium. Dr Ransome’s sandy head ducked as the truck lumbered through the tunnel. Jim was tempted to run after it, but he knew that he had decided to stay with Mr Maxted. He had learned that having someone to care for was the same as being cared for by someone else. Jim listened to the
perimeter of the airfield when he heard the leisurely drumming of a B-29’s engines. He stopped to search for the plane, already wondering how he could cope with all this treasure falling from the sky. Almost at once, a rifle shot rang out. A hundred yards away, separated from Jim by the open paddy, a Japanese soldier was running along the embankment of the canal. Bare-footed in his ragged uniform, he raced past the parachute canopy, leapt down the weed-covered slope and sprinted across the paddy