Extended Audio Sample

Download When We Were Orphans Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample When We Were Orphans Audiobook, by Kazuo Ishiguro Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (8,377 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kazuo Ishiguro Narrator: John Lee Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2005 ISBN: 9780060854317
Regular Price: $24.99 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $17.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

A masterful novel from one of the most admired writers of our time.

Christopher Banks, an English boy born in early-20th-century Shanghai, is orphaned at age nine when both his mother and father disappear under suspicious circumstances. He grows up to become a renowned detective, and more than 20 years later, returns to Shanghai to solve the mystery of the disappearances.

Within the layers of the narrative told in Christopher's precise, slightly detached voice are revealed what he can't, or wont, see: that the simplest desires—a child's for his parents, a man's for understanding—may give rise to the most complicated truths.

A feat of narrative skill and soaring imagination, When We Were Orphans is Kazuo Ishiguro at his brilliant best.

Performed by John Lee

Download and start listening now!

BK_HARP_001049

Quotes & Awards

  • “His fullest achievement yet.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “With his characteristic finesse, Mr. Ishiguro infuses what seems like a classic adventure story with an ineffable tinge of strangeness.” 

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Poignant...When We Were Orphans may well be Ishiguro’s most capacious book so far.” 

    New York Review of Books

  • “Ishiguro’s latest novel triumphs with the seductiveness of his prose...Ishiguro shows a new mastery of narrative tension, notably with Christopher’s Kafkaesque experience during the Japanese invasion.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “You seldom read a novel that so convinces you it is extending the possibilities of fiction.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “[A]n imaginative work of surpassing intelligence and taste.” 

    Times Literary Supplement (London)

  • “Ishiguro shows immense tenderness for his characters. [The novel] confirms Ishiguro as one of Britain’s most formally daring...novelists.” 

    Guardian (London)

  • “Swift, compelling, moving, irresistible.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “A compelling novel...Readers will both enjoy and admire Ishiguro’s subtle work.”

    Booklist

  • When We Were Orphans is an extraordinary feat of sustained, perfectly controlled imagination, and in Christopher Banks the author has created one of his most memorable characters. ” 

    Amazon.com editorial review

  • “Atmosphere, historical detail, suspense: Ishiguro’s new book has it all...The writing is just wonderful, at once rich and taut. More writers should take style lessons from Ishiguro.”

    Library Journal

  • “An eerie, oddly beautiful tale...Elegiac, meditative, [and] ultimately emotionally devastating.” 

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “John Lee conveys both Banks’ intelligence and his uneasy depths in this fine performance...The reserved, punctiliously grammatical narrator, a first cousin to the butler-narrator of The Remains of the Day, here again offers a dramatic contrast to the backdrop of the times—the Japanese siege of Shanghai in 1937; the growing unrest and uncertainty of a world moving toward war; and the romance, courage, and resolve so identified with that era.” 

    AudioFile

  • A 2000 Man Booker Prize Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gary | 2/19/2014

    " Not an ending I expected...! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Malini | 2/7/2014

    " The ending is mundane, even disappointing, but this gets five stars for the way in which it evokes the classic English detective genre, and for its wonderful mise-en-scene all across the globe. Ishiguro gets the idealized English character we anglophiles know and love, and it was interesting to see him play with the idea of Asia. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Megan | 2/1/2014

    " One big meh... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alisha G | 1/29/2014

    " This is the fourth Ishiguro I've read, and the plot-in-the-form-of-recollections is beginning to feel like a gimmick. This isn't as good as The Remains of the Day, but it is an solid novel. Ishiguro tells an excellent story, and tells it well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nancy Brady | 1/27/2014

    " Actually it is more like 2.5 stars as it is between liking it and only okay. This novel tells the story of Christopher Banks, a famous detective. He returns after twenty years to find his allegedly kidnapped parents. His memories of friends and family are faulty and nothing is as it seems. A decent read, but the language is a bit stilted. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Corinne | 1/20/2014

    " An interesting take on a crime novel. The manner of the plot progression and the way in which Christopher remembered his childhood were interesting devices in Ishiguro's talented hands. However, I found an unevenness in the story that I could not resolve. By conveying the story in the voice of an unreliable narrator, Ishiguro paints Christopher as something of a fool. Yet, we are to believe that he is a brilliant and well-renown detective. The disjunction of these two personalities made the story somewhat hard to swallow. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jackie Amor | 1/20/2014

    " Excellent book, "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cecile | 9/16/2013

    " It's the rare book that has a good ending (not necessarily positive, just satisfying or logical in tone). This one is no exception. Other than that, loved the writing and the themes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gordon | 5/15/2013

    " the first 3/4 of the book moved along well... had a hard time reconciling the women in his life... interesting look at entitled british subjects when faced with the read world "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claire Lamb | 3/29/2013

    " Possibly not one of the authors best books. I did enjoy this book but found the search for his parents over dramatised and not very believable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ana | 12/5/2012

    " I enjoyed this very complex mystery for its views of worlds I have no access to, and for its controlled and clear voice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 2/6/2012

    " That Ishiguro can write a fine book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alison | 7/31/2011

    " I really want to review this, but I think I need to think about it some more. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Harley | 7/20/2011

    " I just found this book so irritating. I didn't believe it, I didn't like the characters, probably I just didn't get it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeff | 5/23/2011

    " Renowned English detective, Christopher Banks, investigates the disappearance of his parents in Shanghai. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sieg | 5/16/2011

    " It is well-written, but very poor in terms of plot book. There is no interesting detective story and philophical ideas. I hate this book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 5/5/2011

    " That Ishiguro can write a fine book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan | 4/27/2011

    " Not as good as Remains of the day "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dad | 4/22/2011

    " Romantic mystery but mostly a tragic war story set in England and Shanghai between the world wars. Very well written using flashback techniques, Ishiguro gives an Asian viewpoint of WW2 in spite of English characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kaylol | 4/20/2011

    " It provided good insight into life in a community with mixed cultures. But the way it's written is too formal. There are too many things left unsaid, too many good parts told in a boring way. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Marguerite | 4/17/2011

    " Giving up after 76 pages. The characters are forgettable and the story has gone nowhere. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 katie | 4/11/2011

    " A nostalgic look back on an expats life in Shanghai. He's a good writer and thus I'd read any of his books. But this one wasn't particularly memorable. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lori | 4/11/2011

    " I loved most of the book but found the ending really not satisfying. It seemed to just stop. The writing was beautiful and the psychological intricacy of the characters was amazingly developed. Overall a good read... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kat | 4/9/2011

    " So descriptive and deals with memories and time passed. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ann | 4/7/2011

    " Just started it. Haven't been able to get into it yet.

    I found this book unsatisfying. I didn't particularly develop a lot of empathy for the characters, except for the episodes from Christopher's and Akira's childhood. I had several objections as well:
    [spoilers removed] "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karol | 4/2/2011

    " Written by the author of "Remains of the Day". Elegant portrayal of London and Shanghai in the early twentieth century. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of several acclaimed novels, won the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. The Remains of the Day won the Booker Prize and was the basis for a major motion picture. The Buried Giant was a New York Times bestseller, A Pale View of Hills won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, and An Artist of the Floating World won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award. The Unconsoled won the Cheltenham Prize and Never Let Me Go won the Corine Internationaler Buchpreis, the Serono Literary Prize, the Casino de Santiago European Novel Award, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In 1995 Ishiguro received an OBE for Services to Literature and in 1998 the French decoration of Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 and moved to Britain at the age of five.

About the Narrator

John Lee has read more than 100 audiobooks. His work has garnered multiple Earphones Awards and won AudioFile‘s Best Voice in Fiction & Classics in both 2008 and 2009. He also narrates video games, does voice-over work, and writes plays. He is an accomplished stage actor and has written and co-produced the feature films Breathing Hard and Forfeit. He played Alydon in the 1963–64 Doctor Who serial The Daleks.