The Buried Giant (Vintage International) by Kazuo Ishiguro
This story is full of ogres, dragons, and pixies – definitely not what I was expecting for my first Kazuo Ishiguro novel! Set in the time of Arthurian legend, Beatrice and Axl are on a quest to their son’s village. It’s a difficult journey not just because of the hazards along the way, but because there is a strange mist over the entire island that causes its inhabitants to lose their memories. Some memories come back in flashes and snippets, but there is this constant cloudiness that suppresses everything. Even within a simple conversation, two people can become so confused that they’re often repeating themselves or reminding the other what has been said.
This story explored some very fascinating themes and I highlighted a TON on my kindle. I don’t want to say too much, because watching the themes unfold was a big part of this novel’s appeal. This was about lifelong relationships and the things that we do that are hurtful to the most important people in our lives. It was about nearing the end of our lives and how we become separated from our loved ones when we die. There were some interesting religious allusions – the things we do because we believe that it’s what a god wants, despite our own inner voice telling us that it’s wrong.
It seemed as though Ishiguro was exploring Alzheimer’s in some way. Memories swam to the surface, but in fuzzy and incomplete ways. Conversations were cut off or needed to be repeated for meanings to be understood, and even then it didn’t always work.
I thought this was written brilliantly. There were moments when I found the story to be slow, but there was enough of an undercurrent that kept pulling me along. The way the characters kept repeating themselves was executed so well – I could feel the mist settling over me and my own brain start to feel bogged down. My heart pounded through the last third of the book as Axl and Beatrice neared their destination. I was so worried about what was going to happen.
I’ve never been a huge Arthurian legend fan and this time period has never been a favorite for me, so the odds of me liking this book were not huge. But I’m going to step out on a limb and say that this will be one of my favorite reads this year. And I am definitely going to return to Ishiguro!