Random Ramblings; books, music, films, other stuff…

Book Reviews: Life In The Camps


I’ve just read two books back to back that coincidentally both tell the stories of life in different war camps/ prisons. Both have very different voices but are very worthwhile reads.

First up was Empire of The Sun by JG Ballard which I read when it was picked for the awesome LeedsBookClub. Based on Ballard’s true experiences as a child in WWII it tells the story of Jamie, a young English boy living in Shanghai at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbour. First fending for himself in abandoned houses he eventually surrenders to the Japanese army and what follows is the story of his life in internment camps as the war plays out, constantly hoping to be reunited with his parents. I found the first section of this book very powerful; so much so I was having intense war themed dreams. About halfway the book lost pace and some of it’s hard hitting impact for me, although this may be a little due to the rush factor to get it finished. Although I didn’t particularly warm to the main character this is still a well written novel on the impact of war. Well worth a read.

Next up was A Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzenitsyn. Another book based on the authors real-life experiences, this book is set in a Russian labour camp in the 1950s. The book spans 24 hours in the life of an average prisoner, Ivan Denisovich. There’s no big spectacular plot line here but the book’s strength is in the mundanity of prison life. Unlike Empire, I really liked Ivan as a character. A moving book that makes you reflect on the basic things that we all take for granted. This book won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970; highly deserved. A definite must read.


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This entry was posted on December 8, 2012 by in Books and tagged , , , , .
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