Hiroshima Joe

Overview

One of the most powerful novels about the experience of war, first published in 1985

Captured by Hirohito’s soldiers at the fall of Hong Kong and transferred to a Japanese slave camp outside Hiroshima, Captain Joe Sandingham was present when the bomb was dropped. Now a shell of a man, he lives in a cheap Hong Kong hotel, scrounging for food and the occasional bar girl. The locals call him “Hiroshima Joe” with a mixture of pity and contempt. But Joe—haunted by the sounds and ...

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Hiroshima Joe: A Novel

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Overview

One of the most powerful novels about the experience of war, first published in 1985

Captured by Hirohito’s soldiers at the fall of Hong Kong and transferred to a Japanese slave camp outside Hiroshima, Captain Joe Sandingham was present when the bomb was dropped. Now a shell of a man, he lives in a cheap Hong Kong hotel, scrounging for food and the occasional bar girl. The locals call him “Hiroshima Joe” with a mixture of pity and contempt. But Joe—haunted by the sounds and voices of his past, debilitated by illness, and shattered by his wartime ordeal—is a man whose compassion and will to survive define a clear-eyed and unexpected heroism.

Imprisioned by the Japanese and witness to the bombing of Hiroshima, Capt. Joseph Sandingham is the eptiome of the battle-scarred hero.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Engrossing...unflinchingly graphic.” —The New York Times

“A brilliant achievement.” —Daily Telegraph (UK)

“A carefully controlled study of man’s beastliness to man, vividly observed.” —Financial Times

“Fashion[s] a moving drama from the cruelties and pathologies of modern warfare and some moral meaning from the terrible travail of a man who survived, and even transcended it.” —Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Joe Sandingham, in his halcyon days a British army officer, now scrounges food in the seedy Hong Kong hotel where he lives, steals and runs errands for Leung, a sinister drug dealer and racketeer, to support his drink and dope habits. A ruined heap striving for some sliver of dignity, his only friend a Chinese prostitute, Joe is tormented by memories of World War II, of his lover Bob who died in combat, of his long ordeal as a prisoner of the Japanese. The narrative shifts back and forth between time present (1952) and the war years, accumulating brutal detail and scourging event; the POW period culminating in the cataclysm at Hiroshima, hard by his prison camp. Hounded by Leung's murderous henchmen, dying of radiation sickness, Joe finally achieves a kind of victory by hanging himself. After some narrative awkwardness, Booth is able to fashion a moving drama from the cruelties and pathologies of modern warfareand some moral meaning from the terrible travail of a man who survived, and even transcended it. 40,000 first printing; $50,000 promo; paperback rights to Viking Penguin. (April 29)
Library Journal
In this novel about war, set in Japan during World War II and Hong Kong in 1952, horror contrasts with beauty, intensifying each moment as a precious event. The protagonist, British homosexual Joe Sandingham, is an unusual hero/antihero. Decimated physically and emotionally by combat, the tortures of imprisonment as a POW, and the inhumanity of Hiroshima, Joe remains in Hong Kong, an opium addict, stealing and finally even killing to survive. Hiroshima Joe is special because its anti-war statement includes a poignant vision of life's inevitable continuation. Andrew Peters, Pioneer Multi-County Lib., Norman, Okla.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312268053
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 1/1/2003
  • Edition description: First Picador Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Booth is a critically acclaimed novelist and film writer. His novel, The Industry of Souls, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His new novel, Islands of Silence, is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press.

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