Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro was one of the few books on the audio range of my library that I fancied ‘reading’. It was also on my TBR from last year, which is a bonus. I got it to wile away the hours on the day I queued to see the late Queen, but as usual with these things, chatting gets in the way of listening, especially outdoors. Once I got home, listening to it was hard. I’m not good at listening to books, it seems. I needed to take more train trips to get through it.
Klara and the Sun
by Kazuo Ishiguro, read by Sura Siu
Klara and the Sun is the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2017. From the bestselling and Booker Prize winning author of Never Let me Go and The Remains of the Day, a stunning new novel that asks, what does it mean to love? A thrilling feat of world-building, a novel of exquisite tenderness and impeccable restraint, Klara and the Sun is a magnificent achievement, and an international literary event. [other blurbs are available for the text editions; goodreads]
I think this is the third Ishiguro novel I’ve read, and I’m beginning to understand his style, and his take on the future.
The style is to unfold the narrative through the characters. Brilliant characters, finding their way in a world not quite like our own–future technology has made Artificial Friends, AFs, available to anyone who can afford them. We meet Klara in a shop. I love the way she explores her world as she explains it to us. I also become nervous about things she misinterprets, well at least from our reality, although it is consistent with her own reality, perhaps. In particular, her interpretation of what the sun is, what it does to people, and where it goes at night. And after watching the effect the sun has on a tired, ill?, beggar and his dog, who sleep in it opposite her shop window, she thinks she has deep understanding.
I wondered as I started to write that, why didn’t the manufacturers give AFs access to basic science? Was it fear of them becoming able to repair themselves? Or would anything but pre-Copernican astronomy have just ruined the story?
As it happens, Klara develops her theory of the sun through expeditions, and in order to save the life of her friend Josie, the one who made a promise that she’d come back. It is a future world, and you need some lateral thinking at first to get into Klara’s terminology. It’s definitely worth it, as a study of humanity and loneliness and what future worlds might involve.
Many promises, some kept.
The choice of Sura Siu as narrator was excellent. She has a quiet, calm delivery, well suited to Klara’s personality, but full of different voices and inflections for the humans in the tale. I think I’d like to read it myself if I have time for a next time. Just for comparison, and to see the things I missed through not listening attentively at times. The library marker was over the narration time, but it did seem to be a very long audiobook.
Did I enjoy it? Um… not sure. As always, Ishiguro leaves you pondering…