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Download When We Were Orphans Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample When We Were Orphans, 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:
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From the Booker Prize–winning, bestselling author of Remains of the Day comes this stunning work of soaring imagination.

Born in early twentieth-century Shanghai, English boy Christopher Banks was orphaned at the age of nine after the separate disappearances of his parents. Now, more than twenty years later, he is a celebrated figure in London society; yet the investigative expertise that has garnered him fame has done little to illuminate the circumstances of his parents’ alleged kidnappings. Banks travels to the seething, labyrinthine city of his memory in hopes of solving the mystery of his own, painful past only to find that war is ravaging Shanghai beyond recognition—and that his own recollections are proving as difficult to trust as the people around him.

Masterful, suspenseful, and psychologically acute, When We Were Orphans offers a profound meditation on the shifting quality of memory and the possibility of avenging one’s past.

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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.”


  • 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.” 


  • A 2000 Man Booker Prize Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by 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 by 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 by Megan | 2/1/2014

    " One big meh... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by 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. "

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