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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.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
`A heartbreaking but hopeful story about memory, trauma and ultimately love.' * <i>New York Times</i> * `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.' * <i>South China Morning Post</i> * `Culturally authentic...the writing has grace.' * <i>Sunday Times</i> * `The brilliance of the writing makes it harder to bear. It's powerful and profound.' * <i>Irish Independent</i> * `A beautifully written, suspenseful story of redemption and healing.' * <i>Booklist</i> (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.' * <i>The Straits Times,</i> 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 <i>Orchid & the Wasp</i> * `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.' * <i>Singapore Unbound</i> * '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 <i>The Well</i> * `Heartbreaking and meticulously researched, this novel is a meditation on the legacy of violence.' * <i>Book Riot</i> * `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 <i>Dying Young</i> and <i>Daniel Isn't Talking</i> * '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 <i>The Maid's Room</i> * `The dazzling storytelling illuminates the brutalities of life in Japanese-occupied Singapore... Haunting, harrowing, sweeping and compelling, this is a courageous story of survival, memory, and how we deal with trauma.' * <i>LoveReading</i> * '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 <i>The Dressmaker of Dachau<i> and </i>The Hidden</i> * `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 <i>The Good Women of China</i> * '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 <i>The Emperor of Shoes</i> * '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 <i>White Rose, Black Forest</i> * `Jing-Jing Lee's novel is a testament to...strength in the face of profound cruelty.' * <i>OUTinPerth</i> * `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.' * <i>SA Weekend</i> * `A powerful and confronting story... How We Disappeared puts a blowtorch to our emotions.' * <i>Qantas</i> magazine, Travel Insider * `A story of survival and endurance in Japanese-occupied Singapore.' * <i>Deccan Herald</i> *