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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  

Good Housekeeping's view...

July 2009 Good Housekeeping selection.

On my bookshelf by Emilia Fox...

I identified with this book because it’s set in a boarding school and reminded me of my own happy childhood and the friendships I made when I was at Bryanston School in Dorset. Although it’s a dark story about humans being cloned for transplant, I enjoyed the intense emotions created between the three main characters, and I sobbed when I first read it three years ago. I’ve actually narrated it as a book tape, but I found it almost too emotional to record because I loved the story so much.

This review is provided by bookgroup.info.

The narrator, Kathy, is a thirty one year old woman telling the story of her strange life as it nears its end. At first there is something unaccountably odd about her voice as she describes her childhood growing up at Hailsham, which in many ways sounds like an idyllic boarding school. But with the realisation of the true purpose and scope of their lives, comes an understanding of Kathy and of the young men and women who she describes. Ishiguro captures with admirable delicacy the personality traits of people that have never had the opportunity to encounter and engage with the real world, whose development has been stunted and who have learned their behaviour from watching TV shows.

At first the characters seem implausibly well-behaved. Even given their training and isolation, is it likely that these kids would never smoke or binge because they were forbidden? And when, let out at sixteen, would they tamely follow a prescribed future as if on tramlines? They are polite, punctual, obedient, brain-washable young men and women, that strain to do their essays and their art work, aim to please, yearn for praise, never swear and put their toys away in their little chests under their beds. Or is it that their clear purpose in life and prescribed future, like many rigorous belief systems, makes them conveniently pliable?

Putting aside the improbability of the whole concept of the novel, Ishiguro’s book works brilliantly as an exploration of what it means to be human. Throughout history, terrible things have been done in the belief that a race or class of people are less than human and can justifiably be treated like animals. Despite being ‘farmed’, the men and women Kathy describes display very human emotions, including love and jealousy, as well as their touching and authentic need to know their own origins.

At a time when the possibilities of science seem infinite, the novel questions the extent to which societies are willing to deceive themselves and exploit others for their own ends and who, ultimately, will be responsible for arbitrating and upholding what is right.

Ishuguro never slows the pace of his novel by using three syllables where one will do, tension builds imperceptibly to a very elegant crescendo, and he spares the reader nothing of pity or reproach. NEVER LET ME GO is a subtly sinister yet moving and thought-provoking novel.


Sarah Broadhurst's view...

This is a devastating, sad, atmospheric, beautiful novel about wasted lives. The main scientific theme has been handled by other writers but not like this. I won’t tell you too much for you have 150 pages of fine writing before the core is mentioned, and it would be so good to come to it unaware as I was. I think it is his best since The Remains of the Day, a wonderful book.

Similar this month: A N Wilson.
Comparison: Adam Thorpe, Michael Ondaatje.

If you like Kazuo Ishiguro you might also like to read books by Salman Rushdie, Justin Cartwright and Angela Carter.

What is Good Housekeeping

Synopsis

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

In one of the most acclaimed and original novels of recent years, Kazuo Ishiguro imagines the lives of a group of students growing up in a darkly skewered version of contemporary England. Narrated by Kathy, now 31, Never Let Me Go hauntingly dramatises her attempts to come to terms with her childhood at the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School, and with the fate that has always awaited her and her closest friends in the wider world. A story of love, friendship and memory, Never Let Me Go is charged throughout with a sense of the fragility of life.

About the Author

Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan in 1954 and came to Britain at the age of five. He attended the University of Kent and studied English Literature and Philosophy, and later enrolled in an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of the novels A Pale View of Hills (winner of the Winifred Holtby Prize), An Artist of the Floating World (winner of the 1986 Whitbread Book of the Year Award, Premio Scanno, and shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize), The Remains of the Day (winner of the 1989 Booker Prize) and When We Were Orphans (shortlisted for the 2000 Booker Prize and Whitbread Novel of the Year).

Kazuo Ishiguro's books have been translated into twenty-eight languages. The Remains of the Day became an international bestseller, with over a million copies sold in the English language alone, and was adapted into an award-winning film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

In 1995 Ishiguro received an OBE for Services to Literature, and in 1998 the French decoration of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

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Book Info

Publication date

25th February 2010

Author

Kazuo Ishiguro

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Publisher

Faber And Faber

Format

Paperback (b Format)
304 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Religious & spiritual fiction

ISBN

9780571258093

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