Book 799 – Kazuo Ishiguro – An Artist of the Floating World


With the exception of The Unconsoled, I am enjoying every single Ishiguro novel this list mentions.  An Artist… is his second book and explores his reoccurring themes. ; generation gaps and memory.

This time the setting is post war Japan and Ono, a semi retired painter is noticing that there is a new generation of Japanese people cropping up, A generation that is more cruel, Americanized yet confident and optimistic. Having been the ringleader of a movement that encouraged Japanese culture to be portrayed at its fullest.

As time passes we, as readers get to find out more about Ono’s past and the one act of  treachery that affected his future.

Although this is not Isihiguro’s best book, I would definitely say that this is the one that showed us what he is capable of doing and due to its success, paved the way for what was to come , namely The Remains of the Day.


Book 840 Kazuo Ishiguro – The Remains of the Day


After the terrific Never let me go and the horrible The Unconsoled , I was very eager to see what reaction I would get from reading my third Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day. I have been wanting to read this book for years ( I’ve  also had the film for years as well but never watched it as I like to read the book first.)

It is fantastic

Mr. Stevens is the butler of  a mansion once owned by a Lord but now taken over by an American – ie new money.  While his new owner is partake on a vacation he gives Stevens some time off, to which Stevens spends his vacation doing to things. 1 ) driving around in the country and 2) visiting an old friend/maid and trying to persuade her to come back and work with him.

Stevens is a very ‘old school’ person. Very reserved , exceedingly loyal, a bit snobbish and polite. Throughout the novel we are treated with memories of his time at Darlington house when Lord Darlington was his master.

Despite it’s brevity the book is a slow builder and the reader gets bits and pieces of Stevens past life. Thus we start out with the notion of dignity , then we see the introduction of  Miss Kenton and slowly slowly we see how Stevens’ dignity his tested, from serious matters such as  his master’s naive political worldview to his dealings with Miss Kenton. Sometimes Stevens great British reserve is what makes him make certain life changing decisions.

However it is the final meeting with Miss. Kenton in which Stevens discovers one secret which could have altered everything and it’s this section where the book just shines and takes a highly emotional turn.

Social class , politics, dignity and time – this is just a spattering of what Ishiguro focuses on in this wonderful little book. Not to mention the sumptuous writing. It was a joy reading this book from start to finish.

Book 915 Kazuo Ishiguro – The Unconsoled

Oh dear it seems that my reading slump is still prevalent as I didn’t really like The Unconsoled.  It is a pity too as I simply loved Ishiguro’s  last book, Never let me go. Ah well that’s the way the cookie crumbles I guess.

Ryder is an important pianist arriving to an Eastern European city to give a concerto. The thing is he doesn’t really remember being asked and he feels that he has been in this town before as the residents keep cropping up in flashbacks.

For the next 500 pages Ryder’s mental landscape shifts and changes as new people reappear and disappear from his life. New problems and situations crop up at every possible moment until Ryder has a final solution but even he doesn’t know how to solve it properly.

This is precisely was the problem with this novel, after reading two books ( Infinite Jest and The Clay Machine-Gun) the last thing I wanted was a surrealistic, ambling story. Although I kept at it I became very frustrated and annoyed at the aimlessness. However the weird thing is that I couldn’t put it down. I HAD to see if there was going to be a point and things will solve themselves. Without giving away anything I think there will be some mixed feelings by he time one reach The Unconsoled’s conclusion (isn’t the title a hint?)

So my fourth disappointment in a row – let’s hope things improve!

Inbetweener 8 Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go

I have been dying to read a book by Ishiguro for AGES and so I decided to start backwards (this is starting to become a trend) and begin with his latest novel. Without doubt Never Let Me Go is probably one of the best books i’ve read this year.

One of my all time favorite books is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and I’m always on the search for dystopian literature so I was very pleased to find out that Never Let Me Go has elements of Brave New World and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale as well.

The world that Ishiguro has dreamed up of is one populated by cloned children reared to give their organs away (called donors) and those who help in reassuring the donors (called carers) there are other people in this hierarchical society but it’s the donors and carers who dominate the novel. This is because the main protagonist, Kathy,  is a carer and is telling us readers about her past.

In the first part of  Never Let Me Go Kathy recounts her schooldays at an institute called Hailsham, It is here she notices some strange happenings but her main preoccupation is working within the school’s system and her interactions with her friends Ruth and Tommy. Saying this all the events here affect the future of the book.

The second part deals with Kathy’s post Hailsham life and her training for the future. Again we get brief descriptions of the type of society Ishiguro has cooked up but it’s very subtle and there’s only bits and pieces. Like part one the emphasis is on Kathy’s ever mutating friendship with Ruth and Tommy. However Hailsham still is in the minds of these teenagers.

Part three is the denouement – everything that has confused the reader is exposed, explained and dissected.  Kathy is now a fully fledged carer and her two closest friends are donors, in this part of the book Kathy undertakes a journey to uncover all those secrets that have built up over the years and, yes it all lies within Hailsham.

Despite all the horrors presented here,  Never Let Me Go is an ultra strong tale of friendship and it is the relations between Kathy, Ruth and Tommy which are the real focus of the novel. True it is their situation and Hailsham life which affects this trio’s bond but it is love that shines through.

Ishiguro’s prose is simply beautiful and never ever descends into the vulgar, it’s like eating an After Eight , never harsh and totally satisfying with a surprising amount of depth. It’s well structured flows like a river and gives the reader a lot of joy within the pages.  It’s also worth paying close attention to the novel’s title as it plays a crucial role in Kathy’s understanding of  life.

It’s funny that there hasn’t been any Ishiguro’s in this reading project as yet cause never Let Me Go was published in 2005 and When We were Orphans was published in 2000.  Now we’ll see if The Unconsoled will crop up at that was released in 1995.  Now that I’ve read this author I definitely want to keep on investigating his works!