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Empire of the Sun Audiobook

Empire of the Sun

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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Guardian fiction prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

From the master of dystopia, comes his heartrending story of a British boy’s four-year ordeal in a Japanese prison camp during the Second World War. Based on J. G. Ballard’s own childhood, this is the extraordinary account of a boy’s life in Japanese-occupied wartime Shanghai - a mesmerising, hypnotically compelling novel of war, of starvation and survival, of internment camps and death marches. It blends searing honesty with an almost hallucinatory vision of a world thrown utterly out of joint. Rooted as it is in the author’s own disturbing experience of war in our time, it is one of a handful of novels by which the 20th century will be not only remembered but judged.

J. G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. He published his first novel, The Drowned World, in 1961. His 1984 best seller, Empire of the Sun, won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later filmed by Steven Spielberg. His memoir Miracles of Life was published in 2008. J. G. Ballard died in 2009.

©1984 J. G. Ballard (P)2014 Audible Studios

What the Critics Say

“An extraordinary achievement” (Angela Carter)
“A remarkable journey into the mind of a growing boy … horror and humanity are blended into a unique and unforgettable fiction” (Sunday Times)
“Remarkable … form, content and style fuse with complete success … one of the great war novels of the 20th century” (William Boyd)
“Gripping and remarkable … I have never read a novel which gave me a stronger sense of the blind helplessness of war … unforgettable” (Observer)
“A brilliant fusion of history, autobiography and imaginative speculation. An incredible literary achievement and almost intolerably moving” (Anthony Burgess)
“An immensely powerful novel – in a class of its own for sheer imaginative force.” (Daily Telegraph)
“Gripping and remarkable … I have never read a novel which gave me a stronger sense of the blind helplessness of war … unforgettable.” (Observer)
“Ranks with the greatest British writing on the Second World War.” (The Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (221 )
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4.5 (207 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Catwat 02/09/2015
    Catwat 02/09/2015 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic performance."

    A brilliant book that takes you on a ( sometimes harrowing) journey through China during ww2.
    My own knowledge of the war was somewhat Eurocentric, this book has widened my perspective particularly in relation to Japanese Pow's and their experiences. When you hear people say, oh he never really 'came back' from the Japanese camps, ' he/ she was never the same after' this book gives us detailed insight into why this is so often the case.
    Narration is absolutely spot on, it would have been spoiled by 'sentimental'reading which would have been an easy trap to fall into.
    As it's written from a child's perspective it is matter of fact despite the traumatic experiences.
    The sort of book ideal for long drives as you can drift in and out of the story and don't need to be constantly focussed!


    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 20/07/2015
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    "Stark and vivid."

    This was not as I had expected - and not my usual choice. It is a stark and very vivid story of war time experience from a child's point of view. The narrator enhances the story to give the reader an insight into the cold and resigned emotions that develop within the child - without sensationalism or over dramatisation. Very moving and quite disturbing in parts. I would recommend this book for the quality and strength of the writing.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roseann 28/08/2015
    Roseann 28/08/2015 Member Since 2008
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    "Outstanding"

    One of the best audiobooks I have purchased recently. Gave a very realistic description of what is must have been like in the Far East at the end of the Second World War.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    redfeend 16/04/2015
    redfeend 16/04/2015 Member Since 2014
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    "Heart rending"

    I was not sure what to expect from this book. I have read other Jg Ballard novels and enjoyed them, but this is different, being based on his own experience during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in WW2. The narration is excellent, bringing life and individuality to each of the characters and expressing both Jim's youthful naivety and the protracted suffering the internees endured. Towards the end of the book I was often in tears as Jim fought to survive and make sense of his world. The reader expertly conveys Jim's fragile mental state after years of depravation and seeing so many people die. The poignant ending sees Jim return to his childhood home in the city and then embark on a journey into an uncertain future, I thoroughly recommend this book.

    13 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Astral Surfer UK 01/11/2017
    Astral Surfer UK 01/11/2017
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    "Raw; far better than the film"

    I enjoyed the film and I’ve seen it a few times. For some reason, I never got round to reading the book. The narration throughout is excellent and adds a totally different dimension to the story. It’s far more brutal and the deprivations are harsh and well depicted. Jim’s strangeness comes across immediately. His odd attitudes and questioning mind are apparent. His insights into the occupation of Shanghai by the Japanese and how the expats were treated is often harrowing. Not always easy listening, but a remarkable story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ian United Kingdom 16/06/2017
    ian United Kingdom 16/06/2017 Member Since 2012
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    "Heavy going"

    This is probably the first book narayed by Stephen pacey I didn't enjoy.
    His narrative was superb but content was so heavy that I struggled to get through the book.
    Back to the first law for me where Pacey really shines!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sigrin Valdisere, France 04/05/2017
    Sigrin Valdisere, France 04/05/2017 Member Since 2013
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    "Japanese prisoner of war through a child's eyes"

    I have not seen the film, but highly recommend the book/ audible.

    WW2 books usually centre around Europe and we can often forget about VJ Day and what surrounded and lead to it.

    The book is a grim, no messing tale of young Jim and his parents living in Shangai prior to the war breaking out. The outbreak of war and his subsequent internment in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. It focuses on his time there, the horrors of daily life and also the small things that kept them going. With VJ Day sees Jim returning to shanghai, reuniting with his parents.

    The last three hours are very sad and graphic in Jims dwindling mental state but intrinsic to this great story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MaDr8y 14/08/2016
    MaDr8y 14/08/2016
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    "Brilliant"

    One of my favourite books of all time beautifully read. Highly recommended to readers of all ages.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron 07/04/2016
    Aaron 07/04/2016 Member Since 2016
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    "A great way to take the journey."

    A wonderfully delivered modern classic. What more can one say. It is the Second World War from a unique - human - perspective. The life of a child in death and suffering.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Julie 18/10/2016
    Julie 18/10/2016
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    "Empire of the sun"

    This was a very long book it took me 3 weeks as I am struggling to balance time with my job at lidls

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Penelope
    21/07/15
    Overall
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    "Quietly absorbing"

    Quite unlike anything I've read or listened to before. The characterisation is brilliant. Thematically powerful in an understated way. The tone of the narrator is ideally suited to the text.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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