So for the month of July I have been reading: The Buried Giant.
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Blurb: “You’ve long set your heart against it, Axl, I know. But it’s time now to think on it anew. There’s a journey we must go on, and no more delay…”
The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years.
Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in nearly a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war.
Why I chose it:
This book was mentioned BBC Radio 4 they were doing a discussion about the author and I caught the tail end of it on the way to work. This talk about Kazuo Ishiguro stuck in my head so when I saw that my mum had the hardback copy I knew I had to borrow it – my mum has great taste in books.
I want to start by stating this is the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro that I have read. I know that he has written other books that have high acclaim. I am also aware that this is the first fantasy novel he has penned.
I thought it was – Nice.
Now that may seem like an underwhelming word but it shouldn’t be. I enjoyed reading this book.
I liked the interactions between the main characters Axl and Beatrice, I enjoyed the way that the relationship they had seemed one that had mellowed and cooled into what occurs after passion, lust and general high emotions. Into something gentle and caring and it was described well. Throughout the book, past wrong doings, arguments and passions were hinted at and sometimes revealed but I guess it is hard to stay angry about things that you simply don’t remember.
This whole book is one of those ‘its about the journey not the end’ and the journey did grab me. Exploring the world with this elderly couple and seeing them meet people especially where everything was almost familiar to them, but not quite. I found the concept of this interesting, meeting people who half remember a previous you that seems so alien to who you are now.
There are a couple of parts that were quite perplexing and I will state that I am the worst at seeing hidden meanings or ideas, and I read these paragraphs thinking that I was maybe just missing what Kazuo was trying to say. Several of the chapters with the old knight Sir Gawain just missed me completely but I found just reading past these and going with the flow of the story and accepting these scenes didn’t detract from the enjoyment.
There are a few twists and turns – I guessed a couple but missed several others and enjoyed the discoveries when they came.
The main reason that I say that this book is ‘nice’ is because it wasn’t a stretching read. I didn’t feel pushed by it. I think also the theme of being in a fog and not really holding onto memories or past issues etc gave the book quite a muted feel. Even the sections were it was describing what could be considered graphic scenes e.g. where monks are put in a cage exposing their bodies to the wild birds, because this was not followed up or taken further or maybe simply because of the way Kazuo writes it wasn’t as impactful or almost shocking as it may have been had it been in a different book or written by a different author.
It was a good weekend read, I would recommend it because it has compelling concepts a nice story and I some interesting twists but don’t expect an epic fantasy novel in a huge open world full of new species and magic, its a lot subtler than that.
I will definitely looking to read other books written by Kazuo Ishiguro to see how his writing translates into different genres and how he puts forward different ideas, its always a bit odd reading something outside where you think an author sits.
Let me know if you have read it, and your thoughts especially if you disagree entirely with my review. I love a good discussion 😉