Kazuo Ishiguro is one of the most celebrated contemporary fiction authors in the English-speaking world. He has received four Man Booker Prize nominations and won the award in 1989 for his novel The Remains of the Day. Ishiguro’s 2005 novel, Never Let Me Go, was named by Time as the best novel of the year and was included in the magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005. This is probably one of the most decorated novelist I have ever read and my enthusiasm to dive into The Buried Giant was through the roof. This is a alternative history novel with fantastical ideas and themes. The combination makes for a thought provoking, somber, and endearing story I can see turning into a classic many years down the road.
The story takes place in the early years of Briton following the death of King Arthur. The Saxons and the Britons are living in peace and harmony but the land is shrouded in a mysterious mist. The mist causes the citizens to have huge gaps in their memories as they live life as if it were groundhogs day. The two main characters we follow are an elderly couple of Axl and Beatrice who have indeed suffered amnesia as side effects of the mist. Axl and Beatrice remember however that they do have a son and they decide to leave their home to search for him. As they traverse the Briton landscape, their memories will slowly return to them as well as the people they once were in a previous life. From the start, we are touched by the love and strong bond Axl and Beatrice have for one another. Axl refers to his wife as princess on almost every occasion. When the memories start returning, we start to get a growing sense of dread that these lost memories will change the outlook this couple has for one another up until, literally, the very last page. These are the deeper, tough, and philosophical themes that Kazuo Ishiguro wants to tell his readers and it was eye opening on several different levels.
Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing style is something that I have never quite experience before in a fantasy novel and this tells me that I may need to expand my genre choices in the future. He has a way of dragging you into a story as if you are walking right next to main characters. At the same time, he is keep you at an arms length apart with the mystery’s and keeping the plot twist close to his chest. The writing isn’t difficult to comprehend, but each word and sentence has such depth and meaning that I had to make my way through this novel more slowly than I normally would. You can tell that The Buried Giant was crafted with such meticulously and with such precession and if the author were composing a symphony. It was moving and made me wish I knew about this author when I was younger.
This was my first experience reading a Kazuo Ishiguro novel and, if you couldn’t tell already, will not be my last. There is so much more to this story than just the simple words on the page and its ramifications. The feels and emotions will land heavily of you and you are meant to enjoy the ride much in the same way as a Pink Floyd song. Let The Buried Giant sweep you away to an island without a care in the world and you will be glad you did!