By Kazuo Ishiguro
After reading The Buried Giant, I happened on When We Were Orphans by the same writer in a charity shop, so I thought I’d give it a try too. Most authors I have read tend to have a theme or style running through their books, even when they are not sequels or a series. This was completely a different kind of read to the first of Ishiguro’s books that I read.
Set between the wars, we first meet Christopher Banks a few years after the First World War, about to embark on establishing himself in the world, with ambition to become a detective. In time he will achieve his ambition, but will he solve the mystery that begun in his childhood aged 8, when he lived in Shanghai?
Much of the story is told through Christopher’s memories of his childhood. As children grow, detail fades from childhood memory and Christopher is no exception. This leaves Christopher to try to piece together scraps of his past as he attempts to unravel the mystery of his parents involvement in the opium trade. Don’t worry, this little snippet is not a spoiler as we are informed of it quite early in the story.
Unfortunately, although When We Were Orphans received good reviews and plaudits, I did not find it an easy read. I do not favour stories told in flashback or memory style, and this plot lost me a couple of times. Objectively, it probably deserves its plaudits but I did not enjoy reading it as much as I did The buried Giant.