Englischsprachige Literatur

Ishiguro Kazuo

When we were Orphans

Faber&Faber, London 2012


It is always a great joy to be given a book of an author who has just received the nobel prize. In the case of this novel, however, you come to regret the decision of the nobel prize committee as well as your own decision to read the book.

Ishiguro was born in Japan in 1954 and has been living in Great Britain since he was five. So how he can write with true insight about the British community in the Shanghai of the 1930ies is a question the author cannot convincingly answer. His protagonist Christopher Banks, son of British parents living in Shanghai at the time, has been sent to Britain as a boy, when his parents miraculously disappear. He becomes a celebrated detective in London and decides to go back to Shanghai to solve the mystery of his lost parents. He falls in love with a likewise mysterious lady, but neither his love nor his quest really make him take positive action. I have never got interested in this bloodless, rather vain, self-centered character and only finished the book, because I hoped, something interesting might turn up. It did not.