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Fluidly inter-weaving many lives and two timelines, this remarkable debut begins in Malaysia in 1942. When Japanese troops move in, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is sent to a military brothel to be a “comfort woman”. The experiences of these women are unflinchingly portrayed as Wang Di breaks a sixty-year silence. Then there’s twelve-year-old Kevin, a bullied, visually-impaired boy who hears his dying grandmother make a confession in 2000, a revelation that drives him to discover the truth about his family.
Haunting, harrowing, sweeping and compelling, this is a courageous story of survival, memory, and how we deal with trauma.
The heart-rending story of survival and endurance in Japanese-occupied Singapore
Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only three survivors, one of them a tiny child.
In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel. After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced there still haunts her.
And in the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he could never have foreseen.
Weaving together two timelines and two very big secrets, this evocative, profoundly moving and utterly dazzling debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, and heralds the arrival of a thrilling new literary star.
`A heartbreaking but hopeful story about memory, trauma and ultimately love.' - New York Times
`A powerful tale of wartime Singapore and the shame of silence...haunting... Read it and weep, read it and marvel, but above all, read it.' - South China Morning Post
`A beautifully written, suspenseful story of redemption and healing.' - Booklist (Starred Review)
`An elegiac and at times extremely harrowing novel... How We Disappeared bears unflinching testimony to war crimes that are still on the brink of living memory.' - The Straits Times, Singapore
`A beautifully controlled novel that tells an utterly compelling and important story. Jing-Jing Lee's prose is crystal clear, the narrative scope is sweeping and devastating, and the story is as deeply felt and well observed as it is captivating.' - Caoilinn Hughes, author of Orchid & the Wasp
'Jing-Jing Lee writes like a poet... This was a hard story to tell, to hear and to read, but it is also an important story which demands to exist and Jing-Jing Lee has brought it to life... Congratulations. Every single hour I spent reading this was an hour which could not have been better spent.' - Catherine Chanter, author of The Well
`Heartbreaking and meticulously researched, this novel is a meditation on the legacy of violence.' - Book Riot
`A heartbreaking story told with such humanity and grace. The details of How We Disappeared are so vivid they return to me in dreams.' - Marti Leimbach, bestselling author of Dying Young and Daniel Isn't Talking
'A shattering, tender and absorbing novel... Meticulously researched, exquisitely written, with characters that will live and breathe in your heart long after you finish the last page... I'm reeling from its power-what an absolute triumph.' - Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid's Room
'How We Disappeared is a masterpiece of storytelling. Evocative and heart rending, it tells of one woman's survival in occupied Singapore, and the quest of a child to solve a family mystery. It is beautifully written, exquisitely crafted, and utterly compelling.' - Mary Chamberlain, author of The Dressmaker of Dachau and The Hidden
`This is a brilliant, heartbreaking story with an unforgettable image of how women were silenced and disappeared by both war and culture.' - Xinran, author of The Good Women of China
'How We Disappeared is a remarkable, original novel that uncovers the long-silenced atrocities that the `comfort women' in Singapore suffered at the hands of the Japanese during WWII. Through gorgeous prose, tremendous pathos, and even humor, Jing-Jing Lee portrays the intersection of past and present and the courage to bear witness. How We Disappeared is an important, spell-binding debut. - Spencer Wise, author of The Emperor of Shoes
'An exquisite mystery, an enthralling novel. Equally touching and intriguing, How We Disappeared is a soaring debut of surviving the unsurvivable [and] a searing and shocking reminder of a history many would like to forget, and of the endurance of the human spirit.' - Eoin Dempsey, author of White Rose, Black Forest
`Jing-Jing Lee's novel is a testament to...strength in the face of profound cruelty.' - OUTinPerth
`Memory and forgetting are at the heart of How We Disappeared... Lee's novel shines a light into the darkest chapter of Singapore's history.' - SA Weekend
`A powerful and confronting story... How We Disappeared puts a blowtorch to our emotions.' - Qantas magazine, Travel Insider
Publication date: 02/05/2019
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
|Publication date:||2nd May 2019|
|Categories:||Historical fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Second World War fiction, True stories of heroism, endurance & survival,|
Jing-Jing Lee was born and raised in Singapore. She obtained a master's degree in Creative Writing from Oxford in 2011, and has since seen her poetry and short stories published in various journals and anthologies. Jing-Jing's novella, If I Could Tell You, was published by Marshall Cavendish in 2013 and her debut poetry collection, And Other Rivers, was published by Math Paper Press in 2015. How We Disappeared is her first novel. She currently lives in Amsterdam.More About Jing-Jing Lee