Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro has been recognized as a great writer by receiving the Nobel Prize for literature. This new book is simply brilliant, in part because of a unique point-of-view. The narrator Klara is an Artificial Friend (AF, aka robot), with acute powers of observing and learning. She is acquired by Josie and must learn about friendship and the nuances of human behaviour: love, loneliness, sacrifice, what it means to be human. Klara is an AF/AI with empathy, to serve as a companion, to prevent Josie’s loneliness. Empathy is not achieved by programming but rather by machine learning. Overall, this is a compelling story about relationships; Klara has a special relationship with the sun (she is solar powered) which she logically tries to apply to humans. And typically (recall Never Let Me Go), Ishiguro introduces a single word in the text that is not explained for 200 pages, creating a mystery. Fantastic book, highly recommended. Finally, this is a very nice companion book to Machines Like Us by Ian McEwan.

A Pale View Of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro

pale view of hillsThis is Ishiguro’s first novel (published in 1982) and has the features that characterize some of his later books: a curious early fact (in this book, on page 17) that is just odd, and that is explained much later. This story switches between post-WWII Nagasaki and later England. Enigmatic relationships between characters abound, and MUCH is left unsaid in this short novel. If you like/love Ishiguro’s later classics (Never Let Me Go, Buried Giant), this is a very worthwhile read.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Buried Giant by Kazuo IshiguroIshiguro writes impeccable books about life in England: e.g. Remains of the Day and my favourite, Never Let Me Go. This intriguing story takes place in post-Arthur Britain, with Britons and Saxons and a knight (Sir Gawain) and ogres, pixies and a dragon. There is something “off”, a forgetfulness or loss of memory, that drives the story in a fascinating way. Two principal characters, Axl and Beatrice, are delightful; overall, an excellent book.