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When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

A strange book.  It has a similar atmosphere to The Remains of the Day.  A stiff-upper-lipped Englishman is looking back on his childhood in Shanghai and the disappearance of his parents there.  Eventually he goes back to investigate.

There is a streak of insanity running through this book which I found rather unsettling.  It has to do with the connection between solving the mystery of the disappearance of his parents and preventing the impending world war.  This conflation of the personal and the global is a common symptom of some mental illnesses, but the thing I find really disturbing is that everyone the narrator talks to seems to unquestioningly accept this delusion.  Maybe this is the mental illness filtering his view of the world? 

In the last few chapters the madness seems to take over completely as he leaves everything to wander off through a battlefield.  I was tempted to give up the book at this point because it was getting depressing.  However, in the last chapter Ishiguro pulls things together rather nicely.

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