You may not know it, but you’ve undoubtedly heard of Kazuo Ishiguro, if only because two of novels (Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day) were turned into quite famous movies.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Having read Never Let Me Go, I was greatly anticipating The Buried Giant, and completely blown away by how different and yet the same it was from the novels that came before. The flawed characters and focus on past mistakes are there, but Ishiguro brilliantly packages it in a whole new genre.
Instead of science fiction or historical fiction, Ishiguro brings us a beautiful fantasy in the realm of Arthur, complete with knights, dragons and a dangerous quest. And just as brilliantly, his Arthurian legend focuses, not on these classic tropes, but instead on an old married couple and their quest to remember their life and find their long-lost son. Ishiguro doesn’t abandon high fantasy tropes, instead he gives them a secondary stage, allowing them to support and surround the more important couple, slowly revealing their flaws.
I think my favorite thing about this novel was the fact that Ishiguro employs a conversational tone, rather like a storyteller sharing a tale by the light of campfire while mists gather round. Given the topic, it fits perfectly and you might even find yourself hearing the echo of a crackling fire or feeling the chill seeping in from all sides as you read. While you huddle down for warmth under a warm blanket (I also recommend a warm cup of tea), Ishiguro weaves a beautiful tale that forces you to examine who you are and whether you are the culmination of your experiences, or if your present state is all that matters. Along the way, he explores the many nuances of love, loyalty and whether humans can really trust their own understanding of reality.
That conversational tone, by the way, hides plenty of nuggets of wisdom for readers to collect and enjoy. For example:
“There are days I long for a kind shadow to follow me. Even now I turn in hope to see one. Doesn’t every animal, every bird in the sky crave a tender companion? ” p. 271
The Buried Giant
offers a new way to experience Ishiguro, and will likely bring readers who love fantasy but never found Ishiguro’s novels of interest. And Ishiguro fans might discover a new-found love of the classic fantasy genre. This is what I love about blending genres
and giving authors the freedom to honor these beloved genres by penning their own take.