Return to World War II Shanghai in Dan Kalla's thrilling historical novel Rising Sun, Falling Shadow, the sequel to The Far Side of the Sky
It's 1943 and the Japanese juggernaut has swallowed Shanghai and the rest of eastern China, snaring droves of American and British along with thousands of "stateless" German Jewish refugees. Despite the hostile environs, newlyweds Dr. Franz Adler and his wife, Sunny, adjust to life running the city's only hospital for refugee Jews.
Bowing to Nazi pressure, the Japanese force twenty thousand Jewish refugees, including the Adlers, to relocate to a one-square-kilometer "Shanghai Ghetto." Heat, hunger, and tropical diseases are constant threats. But the ghetto also breeds miraculous resilience. Music, theater, sports, and Jewish culture thrive despite what are at times subhuman conditions.
Navigating subversion and espionage, Nazi treachery and ever-worsening conditions while living under the heel of the Japanese military, the Adlers struggle to keep the hospital open and their family safe and united.
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About the Author
DANIEL KALLA is the international bestselling author of Pandemic, Resistance, Rage Therapy, Blood Lies, Cold Plague, and Of Flesh and Blood. His books have been translated into eleven languages. Two novels have been optioned for film. Kalla practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he lives with his family.
Daniel Kalla is the international bestselling author of Pandemic, Resistance, Rage Therapy, Blood Lies, Cold Plague, and Of Flesh and Blood. His books have been translated into eleven languages. Two novels have been optioned for film. Kalla practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he lives with his family.
Read an Excerpt
Rising Sun, Falling Shadow
By Daniel Kalla
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2013 Daniel Kalla
All rights reserved.
January 20, 1943, Shanghai
Soon Yi Adler — "Sunny" to almost everyone — craved a few moments of fresh air. She still had hours to go in her shift and would be alone with the patients once Irma had changed out of uniform. The older nurse was reluctant to leave the refugee hospital, but Sunny insisted. Irma's husband had developed a fever and, like most refugees, she was terrified of malaria. The mosquitoes that carried the parasite were dormant in wintertime, but the paranoia of it lingered year-round like the stench from Soochow Creek.
Still, Sunny had to escape the ward, if only for a minute or two. The demands of running a hospital through wartime occupation — the constant shortages of food and medicine, the frequent disruption of the power and heat and the unexpected seizures of what little supplies they had — weighed on her more heavily than ever. Especially today, when the embodiment of all her frustration and futility lay on a stretcher in the hallway draped by a fraying cotton sheet.
Magda Fleischmann had died less than fifteen minutes earlier. She was twenty-eight years old, six months younger than Sunny. The shomer, a male volunteer, had already arrived to sit with the body to accompany her soul while awaiting the burial, which, by Jewish law, had to be conducted within two days. Had Frau Fleischmann come to the hospital only a week earlier, when the dispensary still possessed a few sulpha pills, her fate might have been so different. Without antibiotics, Sunny could do nothing but administer fluids, morphine and hollow words of encouragement while the typhoid fever ravaged the young mother of two in front of her eyes.
The tragically familiar pea-soup odour — the hallmark of typhoid deaths — still hung in the air as a ghostly reminder of the woman's departure. Desperate to escape the smell, Sunny bolted down the hallway, yanked open the door and stepped out into the afternoon chill. It was not yet five o'clock, but the sun — hiding behind the layer of cloud that seemed to permanently enshroud Shanghai this winter — had already begun to set.
Sunny heard men shouting in Japanese and froze halfway down the short pathway between the hospital and the street. She blanched when she spotted the source of the commotion. Four soldiers, their white armbands marking them as members of the dreaded Kempeitai, were shoving two boys, maybe fifteen or sixteen years old, toward the abandoned building across the street. Sunny recognized the taller boy as the son of one of the Jewish women on the ward. His face was ashen with terror but, unlike his companion, he silently complied with the Kempeitai men.
The other boy's arms flailed as he desperately tried to resist the man-handling. "Es war nur ein Scherz!" he cried before switching to English. "It was only a prank! We were not going to take it."
One of the Kempeitai men wheeled around and rammed the butt of his rifle into the boy's midsection. The boy clasped his belly as he crumpled to his knees. Another soldier grabbed the scruff of his jacket and dragged him through the street.
"Just ... a misunderstanding," the boy gasped as he was hauled along.
As soon as they reached the wall, the soldiers spun the boys around to face the road. The taller teenager's eyes locked onto Sunny's, imploring her to help. But her feet felt as though cast in clay, her tongue as if glued to the roof of her mouth. She had a flashback to a violent night four years earlier, when she had been attacked in the street by a drunken Japanese sailor — and the much greater tragedy that had followed.
Sunny hid her terror behind what she hoped was a comforting expression, the same one she had offered Magda Fleischmann in her last conscious moments. Her chest ached from the shame of her passivity, but she managed to sustain eye contact with the petrified boy.
"Stand straight!" one of the Kempeitai men barked in English.
Two of the soldiers stood shoulder to shoulder in the street, ten feet in front of the boys, and simultaneously raised their rifles. Dread overcame Sunny, and her throat tightened.
The taller boy began to tremble. His companion raised his arms to shield his chest and face. "Please, please!" he whimpered. "Our families were hungry. We have to eat. We are not thieves!"
The door whooshed open behind Sunny. She glanced over her shoulder to see Irma filling the doorway. The plump woman instantly appreciated what was happening and rushed toward the soldiers without hesitation.
Sunny shot a hand out to stop her, but Irma swept past. "Stop!" she shouted. "They are only boys! This is madness!"
One of the soldiers spun around. The muzzle of his rifle flared twice. Sunny flinched at the crack of gunshots, a cry lost in her throat.
Irma dropped to the pavement in midstride, as though someone had cut her legs out from beneath her.
"Gott hilf uns!" the shorter boy screamed.
The rifleman turned back toward the boys. Sunny covered her face, unable to watch. She could hear one of the men calling out in Japanese and, from his cadence, could tell that he was counting.
"No, no, no," she muttered.
Two more shots rang in her ears and echoed along the street. A sulphuric smell drifted toward her. In the silence that followed, she kept her eyes squeezed shut, unwilling to face the inevitable.
Moments later, Sunny heard footsteps pounding the pavement as the soldiers marched off. Finally, once the worst of her shaking had subsided, Sunny opened her eyes.
Irma lay face down in the street. The two boys were slumped at the foot of the wall like a pair of discarded rag dolls.CHAPTER 2
February 18, 1943
Franz Adler's black oxfords — twice resoled and polished until the leather had thinned — sank even deeper in the field's muck. The wet breeze seemed to penetrate his coat's lining, and he fought off another shiver. Franz didn't mind the cold, but the dampness was dismal. He would have gladly traded Shanghai's dreary rain for the snow that often blanketed Vienna at this time of year.
Franz's gaze drifted to the oval fence surrounding him. It outlined the track where the horses had once run, but he barely recognized the Shanghai race course. How different the place had looked on his previous visit, before the war. That sunny afternoon, Franz rubbed elbows with American and British Shanghailanders, along with the wealthiest of local Chinese. The city's upper crust snacked on eclairs, strawberries with cream and chilled champagne, many betting more on a single horse race than most of the sampan families — who often spent their entire lives aboard their houseboats on the Whangpoo River — would see in a lifetime. With its vibrantly painted stands and ultra-fashionable guests, especially the women in bright silk cheongsams, the track had been an explosion of colour. But now, everything around him — the sky, the grounds and even the people — looked grey. In his mind's eye, he framed a photograph. The scene epitomized the kind of faded glory that he loved to capture through the lens, although these days a roll of film was a rare and precious commodity that was usually beyond his means.
Several Shanghailanders stood near Franz, but little about the ragtag crowd hinted at its members' former standing or prosperity. Most stooped under the weight of overstuffed knapsacks. Pots and pans dangled from their packs, clanging noisily. They might have resembled a gathering of one-man bands if not for the sense of gloom that engulfed them. The men wore red armbands imprinted with a single letter; almost all read "A" for American. A few women hovered near their husbands, their worry palpable. The Japanese were trucking the men off to the internment camp, which they insisted on referring to as the "Chapei Civic Assembly Center." No one knew when, or if, the wives would join their husbands.
Infantrymen in khaki uniforms and brimmed caps formed a loose ring around the captives. Some soldiers stood at ease, rifles slung over their shoulders, while others held their guns across their chests, at the ready. The soldier nearest to Franz tapped his finger on the weapon's trigger casing as he viewed the prisoners with unconcealed loathing.
Simon Lehrer nodded at the scowling guard. "What do you figure, Franz?" he asked in a low voice, winking. "Is that the guy to turn to for special treatment?"
Franz covered his mouth with his hand and muttered, "Take care with him, Simon. With all of them."
"You know me, Franz. I'm only about self-preservation."
Franz hoped that Simon's show of bravado was intended to calm his wife, Esther, who clung to his arm. Franz's own wife, Sunny, stood on the other side of them, silently surveying the tense scene.
Simon stood out among the American prisoners. Not only was he taller than most, but his was the only smiling face. He had drifted to Shanghai five years earlier to avoid managing his family's furniture business in the Bronx but, ironically, ended up shouldering a far greater responsibility as the director of the CFA, the Committee for Assistance of European Refugees in Shanghai. Since the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American and British citizens who ran the CFA, including Simon, had all been deemed hostile aliens. They were, arguably, even worse off than Shanghai's twenty thousand German refugees, many of whom they had once helped to house and feed.
Another gust of wind swept over the track. Franz flipped up the collar on his tattered coat and dug his gloveless hands deeper into his pockets. Unlike the Americans, he had come to the racetrack voluntarily, and only to say goodbye to his friend. Franz was not a prisoner of war. Not yet, at least. As an Austrian Jew, he held no official nationality. The Nazis had stripped him of his citizenship — along with his academic standing, his career and his savings — years before, back in Europe. In the eyes of the Japanese, Franz was a stateless refugee — "a nothing, a no one, a nonperson," as one of his refugee colleagues often put it.
Why now? The question had been on the lips of Shanghailanders for weeks. The Japanese had originally conquered Shanghai in pieces, overrunning the Chinese-controlled neighbourhoods five years earlier and then seizing the International Settlement — the European enclave — on the same day that their bombs decimated Pearl Harbor. They had frozen bank accounts, appropriated assets and rationed everything from rice to heating oil, but had allowed most Allied citizens to live relatively freely for the past year. Some speculated that the sudden roundup was in retaliation for the wartime internment of Japanese citizens abroad, while others saw it as a sign that the Japanese were running scared after a series of military setbacks at Guadalcanal and in New Guinea. The rumour mill ran rampant among Shanghailanders still awaiting internment. Stories of food shortages, lice and beatings inside the prison camps electrified the ever-shrinking Shanghailander community.
Esther wrapped Simon's arm in both of hers. The bulge of her seven- and-a-half-month pregnant belly was visible through her wool coat, though her face appeared thinner than ever. With her deep-set eyes and stoic gaze, she was usually the epitome of poise, so it was unsettling to see her now on the verge of panic.
Franz understood her anxiety only too well. Esther had once been married to his younger brother, Karl. Four years earlier, on the night of Kristallnacht, Franz had found her crouched in the alley behind her husband's Vienna office building, bleeding from her lacerated arm. Out front, Karl's body dangled from the lamppost from which a Nazi mob had hanged him. Now, seven months into a precious unexpected pregnancy, Esther was facing the prospect of losing a second husband.
She tugged at Simon's arm. "Ich will mit dir kommen," she implored in a thick voice. "Let me come with you. Please, Simon."
"To have our baby born in a prison camp?" He patted her belly. "Never, Essie. It's better this way."
Esther clasped his hand against her abdomen. "She needs her father."
"Soon, Essie." Simon stroked her cheek. "Meantime, his aunt and uncle will have to look out for the little fella."
"Of course we will," Sunny spoke up. "After all, Essie and the baby will stay with us until your release."
"I'm still not convinced that is necessary," Esther murmured.
Sunny laid her hand on Esther's shoulder. "Necessary or not, you are family."
"There is more than enough room for you and the baby," Franz said. "We want you with us, Essie."
"It will give me a whole lot of peace of mind, too." Simon grinned. "After all, what Jewish parent alive wouldn't want his kid living with a couple of doctors?"
"Besides," Sunny added with a small laugh, "Hannah has already decided for you. You do realize that she intends to be the baby's amah?"
Franz bit back a smile. His daughter would be a teenager in a few months. Despite her mild left-sided weakness — a consequence of her difficult birth, which had also claimed her mother's life — Hannah had adapted to life in Shanghai better than anyone else in her family. She spoke Mandarin and Shanghainese fluently. And ever since Hannah had learned of her aunt's pregnancy, she had been preparing for the new arrival as though the baby would be her own.
Esther nodded in gratitude, but her expression showed little relief. She continued to speak softly in German so as not to be overheard by the guards and other prisoners. "Simon, these camps ... the rumours ... How will you manage?"
"I'll be fine." Simon winked. "You'll see. I will be the one on the inside with all the cigarettes and chocolates. Silk stockings, too, if you need those."
Esther was unappeased. "The last time the Japanese took you away ..."
Simon winced. Franz shared his friend's revulsion. The previous summer, the feared Kempeitai had arrested both of them on suspicion of spreading a rumour among the refugee community that the local Japanese government was complicit in an SS plan to exterminate Shanghai's Jews — a plan that, thankfully, had never come to fruition. Those six days of interrogation and torture at Bridge House still haunted Franz. Some nights he would wake in a cold sweat, still able to taste the mouldy towel that had been stuffed in his mouth and the foul water that had trickled down his throat, choking him.
Simon shook his head. "This time is different, Essie. We're being interned, not arrested."
"How does anyone really know?"
Simon cupped her face in his hands. "We'll be one happy family — all three of us — in no time. Trust me, Essie."
"I do, darling." Esther switched to English. "I am being selfish. I will miss you so much. I so want you to be here when ..." She looked down at her belly.
Simon tapped his chest. "They can't keep us apart."
"No. Never." Esther showed her first smile of the day. "Besides, this is not so bad as the catastrophe that befell your precious Yankees."
"You got a point there." Simon laughed. He had sulked for days when the radio broke the news that his beloved Bronx Bombers had lost the 1942 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.
One of the Japanese officers lifted a bullhorn to his mouth and shrieked, "All American men line here for transport you to Civic Assembly Center. All now! All others to go immediately."
The soldiers advanced toward the prisoners with their rifles levelled. Sunny hugged Simon and kissed him on the cheek. "We will bring you supplies as soon as we can."
Simon grinned. "I would never say no to more of Yang's treats, that's for sure. Kosher or not, I love your housekeeper's rice balls."
Franz stepped forward. Lost for words, he simply clapped Simon's shoulder and shook his hand.
"I give the Nazis and the Japs six months tops," Simon said, though Franz doubted his friend believed that fantasy any more than he did.
Sunny reached for Franz's hand and guided him back a few steps, allowing Simon and Esther a moment of privacy.
Even after the other prisoners had fallen into line, Esther and Simon stood with their foreheads touching, exchanging whispered words. A Japanese soldier hurried over and jabbed Simon in the back with the butt of his rifle. After regaining his balance, Simon kissed Esther on the lips, then turned and headed for the end of the line without a look back.
* * *
Sunny, Esther and Franz trudged down Bubbling Well Road in sombre silence. Tall neoclassical and art deco buildings loomed overhead, including the city's tallest skyscraper, the Park Hotel. Rickshaws and pedicabs rushed down the four-lane road. Until recently, roaring American automobiles and coughing trucks had lined the thoroughfare, but the Japanese, in their need to stockpile fuel, had since prohibited the use of non-military vehicles in the city.
Excerpted from Rising Sun, Falling Shadow by Daniel Kalla. Copyright © 2013 Daniel Kalla. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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