How We Disappeared
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 b...more
I don't think we got to find out what happened to her baby - I think we were given…moreI was really confused by this and I can usually follow the plot.
I don't think we got to find out what happened to her baby - I think we were given three choices and we had to go with what we thought happened to him.(less)
They were called “comfort women”, a soft description meant to make what was done by the Japanese soldiers to these young girls and women from Korea and this case Singapore, to make it sound less threatening, less horrific. But what they endured was horrific - the rapes and sexual abuse, slavery, locked in rooms, given little food. This is another story that’s difficult to read, but an important one as a theme of the novel reflects - the stories must be told. I didn’t really know anything about w ...more
Yet the history was brutal.
The Japanese occupation in Singapore in WWII took place from 1942 to 1945.
The history often is forgotten - and some prefer it that way. Especially the Japanese government.
The Japanese Military was horrendous and shameless.
Most Americans are educated about Pearl Harbor - yet are less familiar with the horrors of what the Japanese military did - and to the extent that women suffered.
What really got to me was the ‘shame’ the women and ...more
In a nearby village, Wang Di is captured and sent to a Japanese military brothel where she is a “comfort woman.”
The second timeline is in the year 2000. Young Kevin’s grandmother is sick, and she confesses something to him. It causes him to seek the truth, whateve ...more
In the creative hands of Jing-Jing Lee, the rawness and the brutality of the war years in Singapore become a reality for all of us. Once occupied by the British, Singapore became a land seemingly passed from hand to hand always waiting for the boots of strangers to fill the room with echoes of uncertainty.
It's 1942 and the British have abandoned the land to the crushing threats of the Japanese. Village after villa ...more
Jing-Jing Lee has woven a net of stories about a family that experiences ...more
"Who's going to listen?" I repeated. [...]
"Don't tell anyone. Not me or your father or any of the neighbours. Especially not your future husband."
An important book that is hard reading at times as we learn the story of one woman's life as a 'comfort woman' to the Japanese Army in Singapore during WW2.
I have to say that I found this uneven in places: I loved the heart of the book, Wang Di's cathartic narrative as she finally allows herself to tell the story of her captivity and experiences. B ...more
Artfully crafted and utterly gripping.. this novel evokes the strong resilience women needed to survive during those horrific times. Has difficult subjects and is not for the faint at heart. 4 ☆
The story has dual time lines and is told with two perspectives. Wang Di is a teenage girl from a small town who is abducted during the war and sold into sexual slavery to become a 'comfort woman' to the Japanese army. The second perspective is from Kevin, a 12-year-old boy who tries to piece together ...more
Visit the locations in the novel
Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only two survivors and one tiny child.
An emotional and heartbreaking read set during the Japanese occupation. It’s the story of a woman who survived the most horrific circumstances yet survived. Woven around this story is the tale of her husband and the horrors he also went through at the hands of the Japanese.
A heartbreaking and powerful read. Did I mentio ...more
I have read quite a few novels and attended at least one heart wrenching play over the past few years about Comfort Women. Basically women taken and forced to be sex slaves in brothels set up by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II to service their occupation troops. These women were treated as little more than animals. Their circumstances, their treatment and their violation was horrific. Disease and brutality with no quarter given marched hand in hand.
The pr ...more
In 1942, Japanese soldiers ransack villages in Singapore, killing men, and kidnapping women and young girls so they can become sexual slaves. Wang Di is taken from her family when she’s only sixteen years old and, for the next three years, is forced to have sex with 40+ soldiers a day. Eventually she makes it out—but, of course, she can never forget.
Years later, a twelve-year old boy named Kevin is trying to figure out what happened to his grandmothe ...more
It's beautiful and heart-breaking at the same time. Our main characters go through so incredibly much abuse and sorrow and never really open up to each other what happened during the war and Japanese occupation.
I can recommend this to lovers of Min Jin Lee's novels or if you enjoyed the Night Tiger or the Geisha.
How We Disappeared is a beautiful, heartbreaking historical fiction novel with an element of mystery. There are several different story lines woven together with different point-of-view characters, but the strongest part of the novel while, also perhaps being the most difficult to read, was Wang Di's experience. Wang ...more
This book was unsurprisingly difficult to read, but worth it. My heart broke so much for Wang Di, and the real women on whom her character is based. The trauma she endures appears to me to be depicted faithfully in the novel, neither sanitized nor sensationalized, and the lasting impact of this time in her life courses through every page. Her relationship with her late husband, affectionately called The Old One, was a precious thing, and I loved and ached as she reminisced over the ...more
She also tells ...more
16-year-old Wand Di had a restricted childhood. She was forced to stay home and help her mother with the chores. But her worst nightmare started when she is forced into sexual slavery in a brother. ...more
Singapore, 1942. The Japanese troops sweep all before them as they move through Malaysia and into Singapore. In one village, only two people and a tiny child survive. In a nearby village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is taken from her village to a Japanese military brothel, where she is forced into sexual slavery. Wang Di becomes one of the ‘comfort women’.
Later, Wang Di marries. Her husband, affectionately known as ‘The Ol ...more
It also raises the question of silence a ...more
However and importantly, the beauty of the writing and its intimate tone/”feel” make the reading all the more affecting and haunting. I felt as if I almost became her, especially during the most traumatic periods. I saw through her eyes. Other times, she was ...more
As I started to read How We Disappeared, I felt that it was fortuitously connected to my last Asian novel, The Garden of Evening Mists. That post-war Malaysian story included passing references to the ianfu (comfort women) and How We Disappeared is a fictionalised, but well researched, account from one such woman, Wang Di. To be honest, this is a horrific story. Not the novel itself, of course. Lee's delicate yet powerful prose style is perfe ...more
I think Jing-Jing Lee made a brave decision to tell the stories of ethnic Chinese who lived in Singapore during the Japanese occupation,with a large focus on ‘comfort women’. How We Disappeared broke my heart, I won’t lie.
Unlike a number of heartbreaking books I’ve read this year, its blurb laid out, briefly, what I was getting into but even that wasn’t enough to stop the triggers 😭. I think the fact that I never knew it really happened contributed to it. So if you’re easily triggered, by any fo ...more
This historical fiction fills a silence that has been wrought by time and cultural shame, describing the war experiences of women and men during the Japanese occupation.
Primarily the story belongs to Wang Di, a woman who was taken from her family home in 1942 to become a ‘comfort woman’ for the Japanese soldiers. The brutality that she endures is not for the faint-hearted, but the writing beautifully navigates the reader through the horrors without shying away from them. The author all ...more
The First viewpoint is that of Wang Di. At the start of the book, she is mourning her dead husband, who wanted to know her past but was patient with her when she didn't want to talk. Now he's dead, and she's sorry she didn't share more. So you know the book is goin ...more