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King Rat, James Clavell, Little Brown and Company, 1962, 490 pp
At last, the final book on my 1962 reading list. I read this a long time ago before I was keeping my reading log, so sometime in the 1980s. It was my first experience with what I now call Prison Camp Lit. The dirt, the starving, the dysentery, etc. Ugh.
I remember it as a shorter book. The reprint I got from my local library contains sections left out of the original publication in 1962, giving a look at some of the wives and girlfriends of the prisoners and what they were going through while their men were in the camp. Some people on Goodreads (mostly men) didn't like having those parts added; they felt it broke the spell. I say, it was some much needed relief.
In any case, I am glad I reread it. I had no idea about such things in the 1980s. My, how innocent I was. Imagine writing regularly to someone you loved, not knowing if he was even still alive, not knowing if he got your letters.
I hadn't remembered much except for the King and the rat farm. I hadn't known that the book was based on Clavell's experience in such a camp in WWII and that Peter Marlowe was based on himself.
Though the rest of his Asian Saga books are so very long, I think I may reread them also as I come to them in My Big Fat Reading Project. At least I already know they are not set in a prison camp.
(King Rat is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)