Troy Patterson
September 22, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

When We Were Orphans

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Kazuo Ishiguro
publisher
Knopf
genre
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it a B

The involuted detective novel When We Were Orphans — the fifth book from Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of The Remains of the Day — winds weirdly down the corridors of memory of its PI protagonist, Christopher Banks. He’s a Londoner, born in early-1900s Shanghai to a father whose firm was complicit in the opium trade and a mother who organized against it. When young Christopher’s parents disappear, he believes they’ve been kidnapped; two decades later, as an adult, he reopens the investigation and heads back to China during the Sino-Japanese War. The real mystery Ishiguro sets up involves the nebulous nature of Christopher’s perceptions, which makes for a fascinating philosophical mystery but a coldly distant story. B

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