The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant feels a little slow, but instead of being uninteresting, this deliberate pace feels more like a spell, drawing readers deeper into the plot with every new revelation.  Axl and Beatrice are an elderly couple on a journey, and I loved having protagonists at the end of their love instead of the beginning.  Theirs is a historical England, after King Arthur but before all his knights died, but the realistic setting is peppered with fantastical dragons, pixies, and a mist of forgetfulness.

This book is powerful, because I didn’t think I cared much about it until I finished the last page, at which point I hugged it to my chest and repeated a word over and over again.  I won’t say what word for fear that it will give something of the ending away.  Suffice it to say, at that point I realized the story had sunk into my body, and I am changed by it.

Themes of forgiveness and revenge, peace and memory, love and endurance weave throughout the story and our five main characters.  Different chapters have different perspectives, and most begin by jumping forward in time before slowly revealing what has happened in the interim.  Yet despite these choices, the plot slowly reveals itself, and by the time we know what is really happening and how everyone aligns with each other, it feels incredibly right.  Ishiguro is a genius. 

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The Romans have departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin.  But, at least, the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.  Axl and Beatrice, a couple of elderly Britons, decide that now is the time, finally, for them to set off across this troubled land of mist and rain to find the son they have not seen for years, the son they can scarcely remember.  They know they will face many hazards–some strange and otherworldly–but they cannot foresee how their journey will reveal to them the dark and forgotten corners of their love for each other.  Nor can they foresee that they will be joined on their journey by a Saxon warrior, his orphan charge, and a knight–each of them, like Axl and Beatrice, lost in some way to his own past, but drawn inexorably toward the comfort, and the burden, of the fullness of a life’s memories.

Sometimes strange, mysterious, always intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel is a decade tells a luminous story about the act of forgetting, and the power of memory, a resonant tale of love, vengeance, and war.

Release Date:  March 2015


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