When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Picked it up after Ishiguro was given the nobel prize as I had previously only read The Remains of the Day. It’s set between the wars in London and colonial Shanghai and the protagonist moves in fairly elite circles in British society. Similar to The Remains of the Day, the novel evokes the era of Britain’s disappearance as a major world power and the cocktail parties and dinners the protagonist constantly attends become synonymous with the last days of the Roman Empire. The satirical portrait of the false assurance of the British people while their empire falls apart and the critique of the consequences of Britain’s colonial past are not the real treasure of this book, however. Above all else, the book’s real power is in Ishiguro’s prose. It’s very hard to put your finger on how his sentences flow so well and I’m sure other writers tear their hair out trying to emulate him. You really notice how good he is if, like me, you dive straight into his work directly after finishing another book. A hugely enjoyable read that flies by.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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