Friday, 3 July 2015

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Kazuo Ishiguro is well known for his previous novels, The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go. After a decade of silence, there is a lot of excitement over his latest book The Buried Giant. The Buried Giant tells the tale of Axl and Beatrice, an elderly married couple living in Old England during King Arthur’s rule. They are trying to find their long-lost son but a “mist” of forgetfulness has spread through the land meaning they struggle to remember where he has gone and even what he looks like.

The main themes to this novel obviously concern memory. In the backdrop to the novel is the fact that Old England is recovering from a brutal war between the Saxons and the Britons. There is also the question of how marital love is to be sustained; can we still love someone whilst remembering that shared past?  Ishiguro’s recurring and underlying question is whether it is better to forget and under what conditions can we have a peaceful self and society.

For those who have read Ishiguro’s previous books, although The Buried Giant shares the recurring theme of memory and contains the trademark plethora of plot twists, the writing style feels markedly different. I found the novel slow and the characters did not interest me. Stylistically I found the book off-putting with the constant use of "yes Princess" and "yes husband". This book also has fantasy elements like ogres and pixies (perhaps ‘characters’ would be a better word) but it is not a traditional fantasy novel. I don't know why but it reminds me of a tasty soup that has been thinned down too much by water. You can sort of taste what it is meant to taste like but it is difficult to finish the bowl. I feel that this book could have been a lot better; this book also requires a lot more effort than his previous novels if you are to see the questions behind the themes. Most of the 'heavy work' regarding the themes takes part in the last 100 pages but getting to those last 100 pages felt to me like a chore. It certainly did not make me happy when I picked up the book. Overall, it isn't as enjoyable as his other novels.

Book Facts
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 352
My Edition: Faber and Faber

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  1. I've been wanting to read him, but I think I better start with The Remains of the Day instead. It's interesting, but I don't think long silences benefit certain authors. I just reviewed the new Atwood, who also took a long break, and I was disappointed.

    1. Yes I would try one of his others first, Never Let Me Go is great if you loved Brave New World, that kind of dystopian sci-fi. I didn't know Atwood had a new one out, that sounds like a let-down too :-(


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