Wednesday 14 December 2016

Empire of the Sun

Crawling out from beneath the covers of a sick bed I reached for a book. Any book.
Someone had discarded a copy of Empire of the Sun,J G Ballard's winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize 1984.

A serious undertaking but I didn't have the  energy to go rummaging for anything else.

According to the author the book draws on his experiences in Shanghai, China during the Second World War, and in the Lunghua C,A,C, (Civilian Assembly centre) where he was interned from 1942-1945

This is no light read but I did try to skim read the early chapters, ignoring detail, until somewhere along the skim..... I fell into the text.

As well as his passion for aircraft, the main protagonist Jamie Graham is curious about just about everything.  And placed in an extreme situation, where the safe, structured world he known is falling apart, survival depends upon exactly that- attention to detail.

The fear and emotion in such a crisis would cripple most people, certainly it would floor me, but Jamie manages to transcend his fear and focus on the minutiae of his new existence. Restless, eccentric, considered unhinged by both fellow prisoners and guards, the boy's vigilance, resilience and adaptability are inspirational.

My recent discomforts were certainly booted down to the end of the misery-chain by this big read.

A challenging read
An informative read
And a reminder of the importance of curiosity.

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