I’ll be honest; it was the film trailer that made me want to read this. Once I found out it was a book, I had to read it first; and it’s definitely one that needs reading.
It revealed a lot of my ignorance. I’ve read a lot of trauma literature, especially Holocaust accounts and novels due to my studies. But not much about the Japanese POW camps. What’s striking about this book is that I found it so difficult to start. It just wasn’t gripping. Lomax isn’t a storyteller, so his pre-war recollections felt somewhat lacking; which is really where the book is brilliant.
There is nothing more real to him that his experiences in war. Events either side pale and fade away, while his horrifying experiences are stark, clear and gripping. It’s a difficult read, that I won’t deny. There are moments that a reeled away, and wondered at the nature of people. It doesn’t have the lyrical aspect of Levi’s work, or the pure horror of Borowski. It’s something in between, and I liked that a lot.
It’s real, and crucial to read. It’s emotional and extremely human. I encourage everyone to read it.