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?