Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro was published in 2005 and was a Man Booker, Arthur C. Clarke, and James Tait Black Memorial Prize Nominee.  Though the novel didn’t win any of those awards it is one of Ishiguro’s most popular novels.

Last year I read Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day which I really enjoyed.  I ‘discovered’ Ishiguro’s writing in that book and I liked it so much that I feel I would follow him into any story he wrote.  This is why I decided to read Never Let Me Go.  It felt a natural progression into the works of an author I intend to continue reading.  The thing is, I wasn’t sure what to expect because the blurb, which you can read below, and its mention of boarding school ongoings didn’t really strike me as my cup of tea.never-let-me-go-by-kazuo-ishiguro

“From the Booker Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.  Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of the Day.” (GoodReads)

However, and this is a big however, I had no idea what I was in for.  That blurb gives you absolutely no clue as to the world you are about to step into.  And thank goodness for that.  Not knowing beforehand is key to the surprise, especially together with the way Ishiguro tells this story.

As always, his writing is lovely and his characterisation is spot on.  The pace and the sprinkling of breadcrumbs is well planned.  I can not tell you what this is actually about, of course, because I won’t take the shock of the discovery away from you.  It’s what makes this book.  It’s what contrasts the normalcy of the rest of the story which is an important detail.

Never Let Me Go was a good book.  My advice is read it, without reading any blurbs, articles, or conversations about it.  Don’t let anyone spoil it for you.

lilolia review rating 3 stars good

TBR Chronicles #12

A Pale View of Hills ishiguro

I recently finished The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro which I enjoyed so I’ve added to my TBR list his first novel A Pale View of Hills which I hope to be an equally good read filled with his beautiful writing and keen insights.

Originals How Non Conformists Move the World adam grant

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam M. Grant was published this month and it looks to be a very interesting read.  Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favourite authors, wrote: “Reading Originals made me feel like I was seated across from Adam Grant at a dinner party, as one of my favorite thinkers thrilled me with his insights and his wonderfully new take on the world.”  Obviously, I am now sold on reading this book.

Wired to Create_ Unraveling the Mysteries - Scott Barry Kaufman

Another non fiction book which caught my eye is Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire.  I have enjoyed reading about creativity recently and GoodReads describes the book as being “Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people.” I’m intrigued.

Among the Missing - Dan Chaon

I confess I haven’t read very many short story collections but this book comes recommended by Austin Kleon (author of Steal like an Artist & Show Your Work).  Among the Missing by Dan Chaon sounds very interesting and is highly rated on GoodReads as well as being  a National Book Award Finalist for Fiction in 2001 so I figured I’d give it a go.

The Man Without a Shadow_ A Novel - Joyce Carol Oates

The Man Without a Shadow by Joyce Carol Oates was published in January this year and as her latest novel I was naturally interested in it.  It turns out that this new novel is about a neuroscientist and an amnesiac who cannot remember anything beyond 70 seconds.  I’m quite excited to read this one.

The Dust of Promises by Ahlem Mosteghanemi

My final addition to February’s TBR is a fiction novel to be published in April.  The Dust of Promises by Ahlem Mosteghanemi and translated by Nancy Roberts has been earmarked as eligible for this year’s Man Booker International Prize.  Set in Algeria the GoodReads blurb describes it as “A poignant tale of secret lovers brought together and pulled apart as they navigate Algeria’s changing political landscape–from the heady, bright peaks of independence to the dark depths of corruption and disillusionment–this is a sweeping epic and an arresting ode to a once-great country.” 

 

Review: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day published in 1989 is Kazuo Ishiguro’s third novel and the 1989 Man Booker Prize winner.

“A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro’s beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.
In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro’s dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change.” (GoodReads)

The novel starts out a bit slowly as you meet Darlington Hall’s long time butler, Stevens, and see his current working situation which he describes as being very different from the remains of the day ishigurodays he served Lord Darlington.  As you join Stevens on his road trip to see Miss Kenton you also join him on a trip back into the past as he recounts his time at Darlington Hall, the events held there, the famous and esteemed people who came to Darlington, and the day to day of a butler at such a highly regarded manor.  As he progresses through the past you begin to get a clear idea of just how different things had been for Stevens and how he is himself coming to grips with this new phase in his own life.

Stevens is a very well spoken man and the diction of the book consistently matches this which I enjoyed.  I felt it was the most important element of character development in this book as it conveys the real extent of how old school Stevens really is.  People describe this book as being part love story but in all honesty I didn’t really feel this way.  My understanding of the themes of this book were about a man coming to grips with moving into a new age, learning to be relevant in this new time with new ways of being.  Indeed Stevens goes on the journey to see Miss Kenton but it is much more about a man who goes on a journey of introspection to gain perspective on his life and sort through his feelings about where he is in his life now and how he will move forward.

Upon arriving at his final destination before his trip back to Darlington, Stevens decides to take in the sea view one late afternoon sitting on a pier bench waiting for the pier lights to be switched on.  Stevens is lost in his own thoughts until a man seated beside him says, “Sea air does you a lot of good.”  As they got to talking Stevens learns this man was a footman in the old days and he confides in him about his feelings of the old days being over and his doubts of what was to come.  To which the man responds:

“You’ve got to enjoy yourself. The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it. That’s how I look at it. Ask anybody, they’ll all tell you. The evening’s the best part of the day.”

This is Stevens’ ultimate realisation in the face of all his thoughts, good and bad, about the past.  It is the past and he must decide what to do for the remains of the day.

“Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day.” 

I enjoyed this book because this is a message that will remain relevant for us all no matter the times.  It just so happens that this message is especially well illustrated when placed in the context of a time that really is vastly different from the times we live in today.  A good read.

lilolia review rating 4 stars great

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TBR Chronicles #03

The Book of DisquietI recently read An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine and from it I added two books to my TBR list.  The first one is The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa.  I’ve always wanted to read something by Pessoa because he is such a literary legend but I’ll admit I felt a bit apprehensive as to where to start.  After reading a few quotes from this book however, I’ve decided to start with The Book of Disquiet. (GoodReads)

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The second book I added is The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid.  I was intrigued by this book because of the effect it has on a character in Alameddine’s book and Hamid has also been shortlisted for many top lit prizes so I’m fairly sure it’ll be a very good book.  (GoodReads)

The Colour of Magic (Discworld, #1)

Terry Pratchett passed away recently and I decided to do a post about his Discworld series and in so doing decided, I, too, needed to embark on the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.  The series is made up of around 40 books so there’ll be no shortage of reading material once I get going.  (GoodReads)

The Buried Giant

A new and highly anticipated novel came out this month and I had to add it to my TBR list.  The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro is quite a big deal at the moment since it is the author’s latest offering in a decade.  It is said to be a little of a departure from his previous novels since it is set in Arthurian Britain but that just makes me even more interested.  (GoodReads)

The Miniaturist

The last addition to the TBR this month is The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton which has caught my eye because firstly lots of people are talking about this book and secondly it won the Specsavers National Book Award so I reckon it’s got to be good!  (GoodReads)

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Feel free to share with us any of your March book finds.

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2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize Shortlist

The 2010 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction Shortlist has been released and no shocks there.  The shortlist is filled with Man Booker prize winners except for newcomer Reif Larson.

Here is who’s in the running for the oldest literary prize in Britain:

Strangers by Anita Brookner

The Children’s Book by A.S Byatt

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Selected Works of T.S Spivet by Reif Larsen

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

 

If you are interested in reading any of the Guardian’s reviews of these shortlisted novels follow one or all of the links:

Guardian Review: Strangers by Anita Brookner

Guardian Review: The Children’s Book by AS Byatt

Guardian Review: Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

Guardian Review: The Selected Works of TS Spivet by Reif Larsen

Guardian Review: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

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