How We Disappeared

How We Disappeared

4.2 (7,307 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
4.2 (7,307 ratings by Goodreads)

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A mesmerizing novel of World War II Singapore, "a story about memory, trauma, and ultimately love" (New York Times)--for fans of Pachinko and We Were the Lucky Ones

Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only two survivors and one tiny child.

In a neighboring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is strapped into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel where she is forced into sexual slavery as a "comfort woman." After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced still haunts her.

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 never could have foreseen.

Weaving together two timelines and two very big secrets, this stunning debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, revealing the strength and bravery shown by numerous women in the face of terrible cruelty. Drawing in part on her family's experiences, Jing-Jing Lee has crafted a profoundly moving, unforgettable novel about human resilience, the bonds of family and the courage it takes to confront the past.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 157 x 236 x 30mm | 499g
  • English
  • Original ed.
  • 1335953752
  • 9781335953759
  • 1,265,090

Review quote

"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 Daniel Isn't Talking

"This is a brilliant, heart-breaking 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 an exquisite mystery, an enthralling novel. Equally touching and intriguing, How We Disappeared is a soaring debut of surviving the unsurvivable in a time when human life was worth less than the bullets and bombs used to end it. 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

"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

"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

"How We Disappeared is a masterpiece of story-telling. 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's War

"A shattering, tender and absorbing novel that centres around the unfathomable cruelty that women in Singapore endured...Meticulously researched, exquisitely written..I'm reeling from its power--what an absolute triumph."--Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid's Room

"A compelling story of generations haunted by war and the silence surrounding their suffering."--Kirkus Reviews

"A heartbreaking but hopeful story about memory, trauma and ultimately love, 'How We Disappeared' explores the impact of the Japanese invasion of Singapore on the local people, in particular on the hellishly misnamed 'Comfort Women.'"--New York Times

"A beautifully written, suspenseful story of redemption and healing."--Booklist STARRED review

"Raises poignant questions regarding multi-generational trauma, accelerated modernization, and changing identity...Lee vibrantly describes life in pre-occupation Singapore, managing to cinch both the particularity and the universality of oppression."--Singapore Unbound

"Exquisitely rendered...[Lee's] sentences are as effortlessly freighted with historical fact, local lore, aromas, flavours and speech rhythms as they are with poetic grace... 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
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Rating details

7,307 ratings
4.2 out of 5 stars
5 38% (2,777)
4 47% (3,405)
3 13% (981)
2 2% (118)
1 0% (26)
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