Saturday, November 11, 2017

Never Let Me Go

A single question led me to read a 2005 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, who was awarded the 2017 Swedish Academy Nobel Prize in Literature.

How about a read-along for Kazuo Ishiguro?  

The title of Dolce Bellezza's October 7 post was my impetus to read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, a British novelist, screenwriter, and short story writer.  Born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, the author's family moved to England in 1960.  On his Wikipedia page, Ishiguro says that growing up in a Japanese family in the UK was essential to his writing in that it gave him a different perspective from that of his British peers.

In order to participate in this read-along, I ordered a print copy of the book, which took a bit longer than usual to arrive, but not too long, luckily.  (I also needed to get new reading glasses, as I got super glue on one of the lenses, and so could only read with one eye for a few nights; this is not recommended.)  I used a lovely wooden Japanese bookmark that my daughter, Jasmine, gave to me as a gift, pictured, which enhanced my nightly reading.

Driving around the country now, I still see things that will remind me of Hailsham.
~ Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

I started reading Never Let Me Go without preconceived notions about it.  The book is an "alternative history" set in England in the late 1990s, narrated in the first person by Kathy H., a 31-year-old clone, who has been a "carer" helping "donors" for over eleven years.  This story is told through the filter of her memory.  Kathy's memories focus on Hailsham, an English boarding school, and her two best childhood friends, Ruth and Tommy, who are also clones.  Over the course of the story we learn that clone lifespans are brief, and so they fit a lot of living into a short period of time.
Never Let Me Go centers around an "ordinary" sort of love triangle that develops between the three main characters, Kathy ("Kath"), Ruth, and Tommy.  At Hailsham, their teachers, called "guardians", tell them they're special, and emphasize the importance of creative work, such as art.  During childhood, Tommy has various struggles, and is not very artistic, but eventually he starts to draw elaborate pictures of animals, which he thinks may be helpful later on.  Kathy is a "carer" for Tommy near the end of the book, but she has always looked after and cared for Tommy.

Tender and beautifully written, Never Let Me Go is a reflective novel about the importance of friendship, love, caring, and memory.  Kathy's memories are a source of comfort and consolation to her throughout the book. The title of this novel refers to a song that Kathy loved, and it may also refer to her desire to hold onto her memories of Ruth, Tommy, and Hailsham. This novel reminds us to make the most of our time here, whether it's short or long, to live with hope, and to value the little things, such as a gentle touch on the shoulder.

"What he wanted was not just to hear about Hailsham, but to remember Hailsham, just like it had been his own childhood.  He knew he was close to completing and so that's what he was doing: getting me to describe things to him, so they'd really sink in, so that maybe during those sleepless nights with the drugs and the pain and the exhaustion, the line would blur between what were my memories and what were his. That was when I first understood, really understood, just how lucky we'd been--Tommy, Ruth, me, all the rest of us."
~ Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

Warm thanks to Bellezza from Dolce Bellezza for hosting this read-along,  as well as the delectable Japanese Reading Challenge 11.  It is this continued reading challenge that initially enticed me to read novels by Japanese authors over the past few years--and I've enjoyed reading them very much!

Your comments are welcomed. Have you read this, or other works, by Kazuo Ishiguro? 


  1. This is so very sad. I saw the movie rather than read the book as I really hate dystopia and find the genre so terrifying! But I know this is an excellent book.

    1. Harvee, I plan to watch the movie as well. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Wow! What a review, Suko; you have written of the very things which are most important to me in a book. "This novel reminds us to make the most of our time here, whether it's short or long, to live with hope, and to value the little things, such as a gentle touch on the shoulder." That is so lovely! I am glad that you ordered a hard copy, surely it is wise to collect Ishiguro's books, and that you had a clear pair of glasses with which to read it. I love the bookmark, too! Well, I am enamored of Japan in all its forms, and so glad that you shared this book with us. It is one I have not yet read. (I did so love The Unconsoled, and I can't stop thinking about The Remains of The Day. Clearly, Ishiguro deserves the Nobel Prize for Literature, even if I would have been happy should Haruki Murakami won it.) Thank you for reading with me, and posting your thoughts. I'm off to add this to the review site for the Japanese Literature Challenge 11. xozo

    1. Bellezza, thank you for your patience, for stopping by, and for your kind words! In the future I'd like to read The Remains of the Day and also The Unconsoled, due to your recommendations.

  3. I read the book and saw the movie. I enjoyed reliving them through your very perceptive post. I see the book as about people as throwaways, only the rich matter.

  4. I haven't read the book or seen the movie, but the book sounds like a good, and very emotional book.
    Great review!

  5. Great review Suko! I enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed the movie The Remains of The Day, but never thought about the author of the novel, Kazuo Ishguro. I'm glad to know Never Let Me Go is also a movie. I'm going to add this novel to my GoodReads list and add it to the top! Often times the novel is even better than the movie. Even though you got off to a rough start, I'm glad you shared this novel with us.

  6. Thank you for this review. I can already sense the tone of this novel and hear the message of cherishing each moment of one's life.

  7. Marvelous review, Suko!!

    Thanks for sharing...I had no idea what this book was about.


  8. Great commentary on this book. I have wanted to read Ishiguro for awhile. This boo sounds very good for a lot of reasons. I tend to like alternate reality stories.

    I love your bookmark.

  9. I appreciate all of your comments. I'm so glad I read this profound novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

  10. Great post! I never read this book or anything by this author.

  11. A great book for a read-along or indeed a reading group - I wonder if mine would consider it. I should imagine this has the potential to be a really thought provoking novel that may well require a tissue or two.

  12. I saw this on blogs years ago and still have not read it.

  13. First question HAS to be, how on earth did you manage to get glue on your glasses lense :D

    I have one of this authors books on my TBRM am sure but never actually read it. May bump it up after this xxx


  14. Never Let Me Go sounds really good, I have seen it around. I like that last quote you shared especially. Glad you enjoyed this one!


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