"All afternoon they moved northwards across the plains of the Whangpoo River, through the maze of creeks and canals that separated the paddy fields."
As a fan of Ballard's work, I'd resisted this particular novel for quite some time, due mainly to the subject matter. Somehow graphic violence seemed more palatable at a remove, like car crashes, crazy apartment buildings and other worlds. War novels tend to be my last choice for reading material, that's just me, I find the idea that the world never learns from any of them one that is difficult to swallow.
Having got that out of the way, I have to say reading this novel inspired by Ballard's childhood traumas, certainly gives additional meaning to the bleak, lack of hope that peppers his other works. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize this is a fast paced read that also ticks off another 1001 novels entry for my list obsessive tendencies.
A young, aircraft obsessed boy growing up in the privileged ex-pat surrounds of Shanghai has his world turned upside down by Japanese occupation. The author captures the confusion, the starvation, the horror and the loss of innocence inherent in such traumatic circumstances with such vivid attention that I almost flew through the pages.
Definitely worth a read.
5 out of 5, at times cocktail olives can be your friend.