Books

03 March 2015

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, UK, 2015


I loved this book, Kazuo Ishiguro's newest novel which has only just been published. I was extremely fortunate: I received a free copy of the book from the bookseller Dymocks in return for a review, which they have now received and which, with their permission, I am also posting here on my blog. 

The writing is superb, catching the beautiful nuances of the story, which on one level is an imaginary journey complete with fantasy animals and sword-wielding knights, while on another level, it provides a glimpse at post-Arthurian England where old enmities between Briton and Saxon, though dormant, are likely to be being revived. It is, however, the third and deepest level – the journey through life itself and the importance both of remembering and forgetting – that is the most absorbing.

  Photo of Kazuo Ishiguro from www.telegraph.co.uk

Set sometime in the sixth century, the story is entwined around the two main characters, Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple who set out on a journey to find their son. The world as they know it is covered in mist which, we gradually learn, is the breath of a dragon. The mist makes people forget, and Axl and Beatrice want to be able to retrieve their memories, but there are times during the journey when they are not sure if they really want to remember; perhaps they will remember bad things that have happened and things that they would have preferred to have forgotten. As Axl reflects at the end of the book, perhaps forgetting allows for healing.

The style, including both description and turns of speech, beautifully captures the feeling and the atmosphere of the period, imagined or otherwise, and simply from the perspective of the language, the book is a delight to read.

The Buried Giant is about a journey, a journey that we all must make, but it is also about what we choose to remember and what we choose to forget. It is also a reminder that obstacles need not be obstacles and that things we may perceive as being negative and restrictive – even forgetfulness – may in fact be our salvation. An absolutely wonderful book and one that I warmly recommend.