the unconsoled

the unconsoled - kazuo ishiguro
the unconsoled is only the second book i’ve read by kazuo ishiguro. the first of his that i read, remains of the day, still stands as one of my top ten books of all time. i wish i could say the same about this effort.

while stylistically flawless with pitch-perfect prose, the story left me uninspired. my first and foremost complaint was length – did the novel have to be so long? i felt like things hardly changed after the first 100 pages, and yet i had to slog through 400 more. i kept expecting some light to pull me out of the darkness, but it never came.

i won’t bother with a synopsis. you can find it on amazon.

the thing that i still wonder is, what was ishiguro’s point? why did he write this novel? to illustrate the endless self-absorption of people? to illustrate how our best efforts at self-effacing politeness are ultimately selfish and destructive? each of the characters of this story toil through life with only their own interests at heart. they seem soulless and charmless, with few redemptive qualities.

i just don’t know. i barely finished the book, and was so relieved when i did. i will read him again, but it’s going to be hard to do it without severe skepticism.

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2 thoughts on “the unconsoled

  1. Anonymous

    I’ve read everything by Ishiguro EXCEPT for The Unconsoled…and his newest, Never Let Me Go, which is sitting on my unread-book shelf. He’s one of my all-time favorite authors!

  2. Louise

    Bumped into your log through keyword Mitchell. Did you already read Black Swan Green? Completely different from his other work. I enjoyed it very much. I was amazed at your opinion on The unconsoled. I read it a decade ago and really loved it — it describes exactly what frequently occurs in my own dreams: I have to go somewhere, don’t know why, am too late, don’t know what I have to do, have the wrong luggage with me. Etc. Etc. Uncertainty and a feeling of alienation. That’s the feeling I still remember from the book. Musician goes to foreign country, doesn’t know what is expected from him but goes with the flow although that leaves him in constant uncertainty. Brilliantly conveying the feeling, I loved it. Did you already read Never Let Me Go?


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