Tag: Never Let Me Go

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Posted March 24, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Magical Realism / 9 Comments

The Buried Giant by Kazuo IshiguroTitle: The Buried Giant (Goodreads)
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Published: Allen & Unwin, 2015
Pages: 352
Genres: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
My Copy: ARC from Publisher

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Buried Giant is set in a post-Arthurian Britain that is covered in a strange mist…a mist of unknowing. Axl and Beatrice have not seen their son in years; they barely remember him. One day the couple decide to leave their town and set off to find their son. They expect to run into difficulties, they are old and do not remember much, but nothing can prepare them for what they will discover along the way.

This is the first Kazuo Ishiguro in over a decade and I was very excited to get my hands on this novel. I have heard many people say that The Buried Giant is unlike anything Kazuo Ishiguro has ever done but that is what is brilliant (and annoying) about this author. Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day are also unlike anything else Ishiguro has written. He has an amazing ability to write something different every time and use the genre and the plot as an allegory to explore different themes.

As you may have guessed, The Buried Giant explores the theme of memories; in particular, lost memories. Ishiguro uses the tropes found in fantasy and Arthurian literature to explore these themes. Like the ideas of myths and legends that make for great stories but (generally speaking) the ideas and context behind them are often lost or forgotten about. On their journey Axl and Beatrice meet Sir Gawain which sets up the metaphor of the mist of unknowing. Just how did King Arthur and the Britons come to peace with the Saxon’s?

The more I read Kazuo Ishiguro, the more I love his use of language. He writes beautifully and yet he is not satisfied in just using words to get his message across. He uses imagery and plot as well as genre tropes to help drive his message. Now that I have discovered this, it almost makes me want to retry reading Never Let Me Go for the second time to just explore this depth, as well as his other novels. However I am sure that The Remains of the Day will also remain my favourite.

I was completely fascinated by The Buried Giant and I found myself regularly putting the novel down just so I could dwell on the chapters I have read. There is a lot within the book worth exploring and I know I have only scratched the surface. A re-read of this book may conjure up many more themes and imagery, for now I can dwell on the ones I discovered this time around. While The Buried Giant is unlike anything he has ever written, the beauty and complexity will remind you that you are enjoying a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.


Dystopian Fiction; A Brief History

Posted September 12, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Dystopia, Literature / 0 Comments

This post was originally a guest post that appeared on blahblahblahtoby; big thanks to Toby for allowing me to get involved in his Dystopian fortnight and for letting me share this post with my readers too.

Dystopian fiction has been around for a long time; interesting enough, it was an offshoot of utopian fiction which started growing in popularity in the 1900’s. I’m a little surprised that utopian fiction seemed to be the predominate genre but if you look at the history of dystopian literature you can see why. The spikes in popularity seems to have started from the lead up to the world war two and the cold war and then as a result of 9/11 and the war on terror. Escapist fiction; as a way to substitute the problems with the world with a more nightmarish world.

I thought it might be nice to have a quick look at the genre over time and highlight some essential reads (which stick out to me) for people that haven’t experienced all the joys of this genre. While there were dystopian novels before my first choice, I thought I would start with the one book that may be called the first purely dystopian novel.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1921)

A highly influential novel based on the authors experience of the two Russian revolutions (1905 and 1917) and the First World War.  While this book is considered to be an influence for Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932), George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) or even Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano (1952), it’s one book that is unfortunately often overlooked.

 
 

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

Huxley refers to this book a “negative utopia” and looks at the idea of the government making a world so perfect and controlled that it really has the opposite effect; or does it? Are you really unhappy if you don’t know you are unhappy?

 
 
 

 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949)

No dystopian list would be complete without this novel; actually these three novels could make up the definitive influences of every dystopian novel to follow. Big Brother is watching.  Orwell writes a satirical novel of what he sees as the dangers of totalitarianism.

 
 
 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

It’s a pleasure to burn; this novel looks at book burning, mass media censorship and the importance of books. Fahrenheit 451 is set in an unspecified time in a hedonistic anti-intellectual America.

 
 
 
 

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)

Set in the not too distant future this brick of a book has a look at the disappearance of innovators and industrialists and a collapsing economy. I’m not going to lie, I’ve not read this book but I couldn’t give a list of essential dystopian novels without this book.

 
 
 

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

In a culture of extreme youth rebellion and violence, how can the government gain back control? Mind control and the removal of free will seems like a good idea, right?

 
 
 
 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)

In this dystopian novel Atwood takes a look at a totalitarian society and the issue of woman’s rights within it. While I thought this was more like a social critique than a novel, it is still an essential read.

 
 
 
 

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

Sheltered from the outside world these children were brought up to believe they are special and need to be protected, but they are only protected from the truth. This is more a book of love and friendship set in a dystopian environment.

 
 
 

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (2010)

Super Sad True Love Story is a novel set in a very near future—oh; let’s say next Tuesday—where the world is dominated by Media and Retail. The story is centred on a thirty nine year old Russian immigrant, Lenny, and what could likely be the world’s last diary. The object of his affection, Eunice,  has her side of the story told by a collection of e-mail correspondences on her “GlobalTeens” account.

If you look at this list you can see the changing of the dystopian genre; what started as satirical looks at the fears of the world gradually changed to lighter stories of love and friendships. This brings me to the rising popularity of Young Adult Dystopian fiction. This seems to deal less with the social aspects made famous in dystopian fiction and more about friendships and endless love triangles. The lack of freedom, obsessive governments or biological issues have been replaced with post-apocalyptic romances. Not that there is a problem with this new wave of dystopian fiction (I’ve read a few good ones), I just find that the books with more social aspects offer so much more than a good read.  What are your thoughts and what would you call essential dystopian reading?