Fiction

Truth and Memory: The Unreliable Narrators of Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun (out now) is Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel since he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature; set in a near-future dystopian America, it’s a luminous, heartbreaking story about memory and grief, love and loss, and the collision of technology and humanity. Reading Klara reminded us of Ishiguro’s exceptional world-building skills and sent us off to revisit his earlier books. So, if you’re new to Ishiguro, or curious to know if the early work — with its unreliable narrators and inquiries into the nature of memory — still packs an emotional wallop, we have some spoiler-free highlights to share with you.

Klara and the Sun (out now) is Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel since he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature; set in a near-future dystopian America, it’s a luminous, heartbreaking story about memory and grief, love and loss, and the collision of technology and humanity. Reading Klara reminded us of Ishiguro’s exceptional world-building skills and sent us off to revisit his earlier books. So, if you’re new to Ishiguro, or curious to know if the early work — with its unreliable narrators and inquiries into the nature of memory — still packs an emotional wallop, we have some spoiler-free highlights to share with you.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go

Paperback $15.49 $17.00

Never Let Me Go

By Kazuo Ishiguro

In Stock Online

Paperback $15.49 $17.00

Some readers will immediately see a thread connecting Klara’s voice to the voice of Kathy H., the narrator of Ishiguro’s acclaimed sixth novel Never Let Me Go. Set at a UK boarding school in the late 1990s, this was an unforgettable and unexpected departure from Ishiguro’s early novels; with Never Let Me Go, the author of five literary novels delivered a sci-fi narrative in the guise of a classic coming-of-age story, and the result was a deeply emotional, albeit disquieting novel that more than a few reviewers claimed was his best since The Remains of the Day.

Some readers will immediately see a thread connecting Klara’s voice to the voice of Kathy H., the narrator of Ishiguro’s acclaimed sixth novel Never Let Me Go. Set at a UK boarding school in the late 1990s, this was an unforgettable and unexpected departure from Ishiguro’s early novels; with Never Let Me Go, the author of five literary novels delivered a sci-fi narrative in the guise of a classic coming-of-age story, and the result was a deeply emotional, albeit disquieting novel that more than a few reviewers claimed was his best since The Remains of the Day.

The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day

Paperback $13.99 $17.00

The Remains of the Day

By Kazuo Ishiguro

In Stock Online

Paperback $13.99 $17.00

Ishiguro says it was Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre that taught him how to write unreliable narrators who are detached from their realities. Ishiguro’s greatest creation is Stevens, the Butler of Darlington Hall in The Remains of the Day, winner of the Booker Prize, and Ishiguro’s first bestseller. This is a perfect novel, beautifully written, a quietly devastating portrait of a man who puts duty to his position before love and family and everything else in the world only to discover that he has been lying to himself for decades, and has warped his own memories.

Ishiguro says it was Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre that taught him how to write unreliable narrators who are detached from their realities. Ishiguro’s greatest creation is Stevens, the Butler of Darlington Hall in The Remains of the Day, winner of the Booker Prize, and Ishiguro’s first bestseller. This is a perfect novel, beautifully written, a quietly devastating portrait of a man who puts duty to his position before love and family and everything else in the world only to discover that he has been lying to himself for decades, and has warped his own memories.

Stevens the Butler is Ishiguro’s finest character, but he’s hardly the only man in Ishiguro’s body of work who is coming to terms with his past. Just wait until you meet Ishiguro’s most unreliable narrator in When We Were Orphans, a sublime noir set in 1930s Shanghai. Christopher Banks, a celebrated British detective, returns to Shanghai in search of his long-missing parents. But the city he returns to is now occupied by the Japanese army and is a far cry from the one he remembers from his childhood, and the personal mythology he’s constructed for himself.

Stevens the Butler is Ishiguro’s finest character, but he’s hardly the only man in Ishiguro’s body of work who is coming to terms with his past. Just wait until you meet Ishiguro’s most unreliable narrator in When We Were Orphans, a sublime noir set in 1930s Shanghai. Christopher Banks, a celebrated British detective, returns to Shanghai in search of his long-missing parents. But the city he returns to is now occupied by the Japanese army and is a far cry from the one he remembers from his childhood, and the personal mythology he’s constructed for himself.

An Artist of the Floating World is Ishiguro’s second novel, the story of a Japanese artist, the decisions he made before and during the war, and his life in the aftermath of WWII. Masuji Ono doesn’t understand why his reputation as a painter has faltered or why his youngest daughter’s marriage negotiations are so complicated, or why his son-in-law and grandson are so alien to him. This artist is a man who put his talent to work promoting the interests of Imperial Japan, only to discover that the world is moving on without him and his flawed memories.

An Artist of the Floating World is Ishiguro’s second novel, the story of a Japanese artist, the decisions he made before and during the war, and his life in the aftermath of WWII. Masuji Ono doesn’t understand why his reputation as a painter has faltered or why his youngest daughter’s marriage negotiations are so complicated, or why his son-in-law and grandson are so alien to him. This artist is a man who put his talent to work promoting the interests of Imperial Japan, only to discover that the world is moving on without him and his flawed memories.

P.S. Klara and the Sun and Never Let Me Go and When We Were Orphans aren’t Ishiguro’s only forays into genre fiction. The Buried Giant is Ishiguro’s wildly imaginative adventure story set in post-Arthurian Britain. (Sir Gawain plays a rather large role here.) Like his early books, the power of memory is the heart of this novel, an epic story of love and war, trauma and collective memory, with echoes of J.R.R. Tolkien. Neil Gaiman calls The Buried Giant “exceptional… [it] does what important books do: it remains in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave.”

P.S. Klara and the Sun and Never Let Me Go and When We Were Orphans aren’t Ishiguro’s only forays into genre fiction. The Buried Giant is Ishiguro’s wildly imaginative adventure story set in post-Arthurian Britain. (Sir Gawain plays a rather large role here.) Like his early books, the power of memory is the heart of this novel, an epic story of love and war, trauma and collective memory, with echoes of J.R.R. Tolkien. Neil Gaiman calls The Buried Giant “exceptional… [it] does what important books do: it remains in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave.”