Saturday, October 28, 2006

Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro

For October's Book Club we read Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 Never Let Me Go. You might recall the Japanese-British author from his novel-turned-film, "The Remains of the Day."

During the long flight between Zurich and Chicago a few weeks ago, I delved into the strange world of children marooned in a private school on the verge of both adolescence and the deep -down biological truth about who they are. Soon they will leave the school and begin their life of work. But their life's work has been pre-ordained and entails their entrails. (Sorry, couldn't help that last word play.)

I won't give too much away here except to say that the children are aware that one day they will become "donors" or "carers" and in the meantime they must produce artwork to please their guardians. The story revolves around three friends who grow up before your eyes slowly, painfully. They move toward their fates with the resigned spirits of those whose free will is compromised. They are calmly reserved, but nevertheless achingly human.

I was not convinced that it would be a good book for discussion. The characters were flat-ish and the science fiction dystopia outside of our usual tastes. I am not sure why I thought this seeing as how Blindness by Saramago was a hit with most of us. Ishiguro's tale is a far "easier" read by comparison.

After a lovely meal of served by our hostess, we moved into a rewarding explication of the text. It turns out that we were unabashedly eager to share our takes on the existential tale and its touchstones with our modern world. I admit: I interrupted, more than once, to make my points.

Here are a few useful sites:
NPR site with excerpt from Chapter One and links to audio interviews with the author review

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