Monday, March 29, 2021

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun is pure Ishiguro; it’s a masterpiece of the near future that makes us look at who we are today. Klara is an artificial friend purchased to be the companion for an ailing fourteen-year-old girl. Klara is observant, empathetic, and loving — not characteristics literature generally attributes to non humans. She, like her fellow AFs, needs the sun for nourishment so she is literally filled with light. It is this metaphor of light as love that makes the novel exceptional. 

That the highly successful students in this future world study virtually in their homes feels prescient of our current malaise, but what the novel illuminates is that our devices make isolation inevitable. Ishiguro explores our disconnected world by showing that an outsider can be the one who exemplifies perfect love despite the manner in which society treats those who are different. When Klara visits a neighbor’s home, the mother of the boy she’s come to see addresses her with: “One never knows how to greet a guest like you,” she says. “After all, are you a guest at all? Or do I treat you like a vacuum cleaner.” As Klara narrates the novel, we immediately see that this overt disdain doesn’t upset her. She cares deeply about others yet is unmoved by slights from humans, even those who supposedly love her. 

Seeing the world through Klara’s eyes means that we view it through a lens of artificiality. Klara as narrator, while machine-like in her movements and vocabulary, is infinitely more honest and caring than the novel’s humans. Her observations, particularly at the novel’s end are the essence of what we wish for humanity to be. 

Summing it Up: Read Klara and the Sun to experience an ironic, yet caring view of our increasingly isolated society. Dive into it it for the spot-on look at parents who will do anything to make their child a success. Explore its take on how we value people by their utility. Enjoy its exquisite revelation of sacrificial love. Yes, literary novels can be love stories, Ishiguro proves it and demonstrates why he’s a Nobel laureate. If you loved Never Let Me Go and Remains of the Day, you’re in for a delicious treat.

Rating: 5 Stars

Category: Fiction, Five Stars, Gourmet, Sushi, Sweet Bean Paste, Book Club

Publication Date: March 2, 2021

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