Unlucky Jim

Julian Symons

  • The Kindness of Women by J.G. Ballard
    HarperCollins, 286 pp, £14.99, September 1991, ISBN 0 00 223771 7

There is something to be said for encountering some years after publication a fictional work not only popular but critically acclaimed. What is novel in the subject-matter will have become familiarly known, something particularly relevant to J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun, which fascinated some of its early readers and reviewers because it was based on the writer's childhood experiences while interned in Shanghai during World War Two.[*] And in the case of this book the wave of indignation when it failed to win the Booker Prize has subsided. Its successor, incidentally, The Kindness of Women, has just failed to make this year's short list.

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[*] Reissued by Paladin on 12 September (176 pp, £4.99,0 586 090630).