Reading Now

The Buried Giant

by Kazuo Ishiguro

I expected to like The Buried Giant but in fact I loved it! After reading Never Let Me Go several years ago, I wasn’t surprised at Ishiguro’s appropriation of the fantasy genre in The Buried Giant, as he previously ventured into speculative fiction territory with Never Let Me Go and made it his own sweet, sad, surprising love story. It seems to me he isn’t scared of  tackling genre fiction because he just wants to tell his story in the best way possible making up his own rules along the way.

Like Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro’s latest work is a contemplation on love and death. It also asks important questions for our times about memory, both personal and national. As I read it I found myself thinking about ethnic cleansings and atrocities both recent and historical and wondering whether it was better for healing and the pursuit of peace to forget or whether forgetting was just another way of not changing, another way of burying the past. The propaganda machines of certain governments and regimes might wish they too had a dragon’s breath mist to spread forgetfulness across the world.

As to the issue of ‘fantasy’, I didn’t read The Buried Giant as a take on the modern genre but more akin stylistically to what would have been called a ‘romance’ in medieval times. More like Sir Thomas Malory’s ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ (1485) or the poems of French court writer, Chretien de Troyes. Those old Arthurian tales are also meditations on love, war and death.

Anyway, I’ll be waiting impatiently to see what Ishiguro comes up with next. I’d like to see him tackle a thriller!