Adult Fiction--Ibbotson to Ishikawa
Ibbotson, Eva. Song for Summer (Penguin Group, 2007).
Eighteen-year-old Ellen never expected the Hallendorf school to be, well, quite so unusual. After all, her life back in England with her suffragette mother and liberated aunts certainly couldn’t be called normal, but buried deep in the beautiful Austrian countryside, ellen discovers an eccentric world occupied by wild children and even wilder teachers, experimental dancers and a tortoise on wheels. And then there is the particurally intriguing, enigmatic, and very handsome Marek, part-time gardener and fencing teacher. Ellen is instantly attracted to the mysterious gardener, but Hitler’s reich is already threatening their peaceful world. Only when she discovers Marek’s true identity and his dangerous mission does ellen realize the depth of her feelings for him—and the danger their newfound love faces in the shadow of war.
Ibuse, Masuji. Black Rain (Kodansha International, Reissue edition, 1997).
Black Rain is centered around the story of a young woman who was caught in the radioactive "black rain" that fell after the bombing of Hiroshima. lbuse bases his tale on real-life diaries and interviews with victims of the holocaust; the result is a book that is free from sentimentality yet manages to reveal the magnitude of the human suffering caused by the atom bomb. The life of Yasuko, on whom the black rain fell, is changed forever by periodic bouts of radiation sickness and the suspicion that her future children, too, may be affected. lbuse tempers the horror of his subject with the gentle humor for which he is famous. His sensitivity to the complex web of emotions in a traditional community torn asunder by this historical event has made Black Rain one of the most acclaimed treatments of the Hiroshima story.
Iles, Greg. Black Cross (Signet, 1995)
In January 1944, as the world awaits the Allied invasion of Europe, British Intelligence learns of a Nazi scientific development that could turn the war in Hitler's favor. Will two men—a pacifist American doctor and a fanatical Jewish assassin—be able to prevent a Nazi triumph?
Iles, Greg. Spandau Phoenix (Signet, 1994).
Stock characters and melodramatic plotting mar this first novel, which posits a Rudolf Hess impostor imprisoned in Spandau while the real Nazi remains free, working from a secret South African stronghold to keep Hitler's legacy alive. In 1987, soon after the fake Hess dies in his jail cell, 27-year-old German police sergeant Hans Apfel accidentally discovers a sheaf of yellow documents amid the rubble of the recently demolished Spandau prison. Hans takes the mysterious papers to his wife Ilse who, with her father, a history professor, translates the Spandau Papers, as they come to be known, from their original Latin. What they uncover is a plot begun in 1941 involving Hitler, Hess, his SS-trained double and Nazi sympathizers in the House of Parliament, to kill Churchill and replace him with the appeasing Duke of Windsor. When word of the existence of the papers--which may indicate a present-day neo-Nazi/South African plan to annihilate Israel--gets out, KGB agents, the East German secret police and a rogue Mossad agent race to locate them. Though clearly written, with some entertaining speculation, this effort is overwhelmed by cliches. (Publisher’s Weekly)
Inman, Robert. Home Fires Burning (Little, Brown Company, 1998).
The place—a small Alabama town. The time—1944. As the distant war draws to a close, Jake Tibbetts, editor of the local newspaper and the town's self-proclaimed conscience, must come to terms with the way World War II has changed everything--and the entire town finds itself uncomfortably straddling the threshold of a new era.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. An Artist of the Floating World (Farber and Farber, Re-issue, 2005).
In An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro offers readers of the English language an authentic look at postwar Japan, "a floating world" of changing cultural behaviors, shifting societal patterns and troubling questions. Ishiguro, who was born in Nagasaki in 1954 but moved to England in 1960, writes the story of Masuji Ono, a bohemian artist and purveyor of the night life who became a propagandist for Japanese imperialism during the war. But the war is over. Japan lost, Ono's wife and son have been killed, and many young people blame the imperialists for leading the country to disaster. What's left for Ono? Ishiguro's treatment of this story earned a 1986 Whitbread Prize. (Amazon.com)
Ishiguro, Kazuo. Remains of the Day (Farber and Farber, Re-issue, 2005).
The novel's narrator, Stevens, is a perfect English butler who tries to give his narrow existence form and meaning through the self-effacing, almost mystical practice of his profession. In a career that spans the Second World War, Stevens is oblivious of the real life that goes on around him—obviously, for instance, of the fact that his aristocrat employer is a Nazi sympathizer. Still, there are even larger matters at stake in this heartbreaking, pitch-perfect novel--namely, Stevens' own ability to allow some bit of life-affirming love into his tightly repressed existence.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. When We Were Orphans (Knopf Publishing Group, 2001).
When Christopher Banks becomes a private detective, he fulfills a lifelong ambition. However, none of his new professional chores have the force of one very personal assignment: Banks decides to return to his Shanghai birthplace to trace his parents, who disappeared when he was just a boy. In the hands of a less adept novelist, this plot would slip quickly into well-worn tracks. In the hands of Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of Booker Prize-winning Remains of the Day, the narrative becomes a subtle instrument, registering cultural nuances and character changes.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. A Pale View of Hills (Vintage, 1990).
The story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her daughter. In a story where past and present confuse, she relives scenes of Japan's devastation in the wake of World War II.
Ishikawa, Tatsuzo. Soldiers Alive (University of Hawaii Press, 2003).
When the editors of Chuo koron, Japan's leading liberal magazine, sent the prize-winning young novelist Ishikawa Tatsuzo to war ravaged China in early 1938, they knew the independent-minded writer would produce a work wholly different from the lyrical and sanitized war reports then in circulation. They could not predict, however, that Ishikawa would write an unsettling novella so grimly realistic it would promptly be banned and lead to the author's conviction on charges of "disturbing peace and order." Decades later, Soldiers Alive remains a deeply disturbing and eye-opening account of the Japanese march on Nanking and its aftermath. In its unforgettable depiction of an ostensibly altruistic war's devastating effects on the soldiers who fought it and the civilians they presumed to "liberate," Ishikawa's work retains its power to shock, inform, and provoke.