How We Disappeared – Jing-Jing Lee

How We Disappeared tells the story of women, who were forced to work as sex slaves by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. The book is based in part on the experiences of the great grandfather of Singaporean author Jing-Jing Lee. As you can understand, this book is not an easy read.


How We Disappeared - Jing-Jing Lee

Thounsands of lives, disappearing

How We Disappeared is set in Singapore. It tells the story of Wang Di, who was forced to work as a sex slave and Kevin, a 12-year-old boy who tries to solve the mystery of his grandmother. Their stories are told in separate sections, and the dates change accordingly. 

Both stories will break your heart. It was hard to read about the things women had to endure during the war but it was harder to read about when they were back home. They continued to live with this shame throughout their lives and unfortunately, are excluded by their families and society. It is a difficult book, but I can say that the author has done a great job. You’ll finish this is no time, regarding the subject.


About the book: How We Disappeared

A beautiful, stunningly ambitious novel set in Singapore about a woman who survived the Japanese occupation and a man who thought he had lost everything. For fans of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko and Georgia Hunter’s We Were the Lucky Ones.

Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only two survivors and one 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 brothel where she is forced into sexual slavery. After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced there still haunts her present.

In the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is determined to find out the truth – wherever it might lead – after his grandmother makes a surprising confession on her deathbed, one she never meant Kevin to hear, setting in motion a chain of events he could never have foreseen.

Weaving together two timelines and two very big secrets, this stunning debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, revealing the strength and bravery shown by numerous women in the face of terrible cruelty. A profoundly moving novel, it is based partly on the author’s great-grandfather’s experiences.

About the author: Jing-Jing Lee

†Jing-Jing Lee was born and raised in Singapore. She obtained a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Oxford in 2011 and has since seen her poetry and short stories published in various journals and anthologies.

How We Disappeared - Jing-Jing Lee

Reading this book contributed to these challenges: 

Reading Challenge 2019 – The Year of Women Writers

Read Around the World

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