Klara and the Sun by: Kazuo Ishiguro – A novel.
AGE: 14+ // GENRE: Dystopian fiction // PAGE COUNT: 303 // RATING: 4/5
*The summary is from Goodreads.*
Klara and the Sun, the first novel by Kazuo Ishiguro since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, tells the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her.
Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: What does it mean to love?
Hello! Welcome to a review of Kazuo Ishiguro’s most recent novel!
Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun is a beautiful exploration of love and loneliness, and authenticity and superficiality, within an age of increasing technological prevalence. Throughout the novel, Klara remained a most fascinating presence as she silently observed human patterns and complexities. Ishiguro’s keen sense to allow her technological design to remain starkly distinguished, her humanity firmly rooted in her fabrication, offered the novel an uncanny and defamiliarizing tone. Undercurrents of darkness and subversion permeated the novel’s core amid a clever facade of technological advancement. Klara’s alien perspective allowed Ishiguro to approach the human and non-human elements of the story with equal empathy and care, gentle understanding seeping into the depths of each character.
I found Ishiguro’s exploration of fear and despair fascinating. In particular, he beautifully captured the desperation we experience in the face of loss by exploring technology’s offerings, both its astounding contributions and its grave limits. By demonstrating sharp observation and quiet persuasion, Ishiguro allowed two narratives to flourish—human and Artificial—while carefully accentuating the unparalleled and inimitable nature of the human condition. Most frequently, Ishiguro emphasized the importance of human connection and compassion, and the lack of a technological substitute. In spite of our technological advancements, however, we remain hungry for the intricacies and distinctions of the human mind, the contradictions and passion within our hearts, and the astonishing and devastating experiences felt throughout our lives. In short, we transcend the hopes of technology.
Throughout Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro explored the parallel between the natural and the engineered: the Sun and Klara. Despite epitomizing an age of technological triumph, Klara remained heavily dependent on the Sun’s nourishment and its protection. Klara’s relationship with the Sun was similarly mirrored by the living’s intimate reliance on Klara and fellow AFs. As the novel progressed, the Sun’s nourishment grew more powerful as its revitalizing properties adopted a tangible significance shared by both humans and AFs. Although Klara’s initial purpose was to offer comfort and possible surrogacy, her intentions waned in the face of mortality and realization. Thus, Ishiguro beautifully explored our primal return to nature for our ultimate survival, despite our psychological dependency on and fascination with technology.
The fluidity and ease with which Ishiguro manipulated his prose allowed great warmth to permeate the novel. Despite its fairly mournful nature, the tone and texture of the novel burned brightly. But I remain severely skeptical of the re-readability of this novel. Over the course of writing this review, I’ve puzzled over Ishiguro’s approach. Initially, Klara and the Sun struck me as rather simplistic in its delivery, but ambitious in its areas of exploration. However, I think I have arrived at a place of appreciation for the quiet complexity of this novel, its subtlety and covertness an integral aspect of Ishiguro’s writing. In an unedited draft of this review, I had drawn a comparison between Colum McCann’s novel Apeirogon and Klara and the Sun, remarking on the seemingly striking difference between the intricacy and breadth of the two novels. But I no longer believe this to be a constructive comparison. Although Ishiguro’s approach is softer and more readily consumable by both the average and the critical reader, he has succeeded at creating an accessible piece of work that offers the reader an opportunity to reflect and ruminate on questions that are deeply explored and those that echo faintly throughout the novel.
That said, as the story remained only moderately eventful, I wish I had grown more fond of the cast of characters; but they remained sadly distant to me, despite their eerily intriguing natures. Nevertheless, I admired the palpable, yet elusive presence of illness lurking in the depths of the novel, allowing for a layer of human complexity to remain undefined and irreducible. Through Klara and the Sun, one can hope Ishiguro has aroused a cultural awakening.
Thank you very much for reading!