Rating: 4 out of 5
In anticipation of meeting Kazuo Ishiguro this Thursday, I’ve just completed his latest novel in ten years: The Buried Giant.
I have already discussed at length why I love Ishiguro’s writing so much in this recent blog post. Needless to say, after such a blockbuster success with his last novel Never Let Me Go, fans’ expectations were extremely high while reading this book!
The Buried Giant is yet another one of Ishiguro’s experiments with genre. It features Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple living in a mythical, post-Arthurian Britain. Due to a mysterious mist, people have fallen victim to forgetfulness: it’s not uncommon for the villagers to get riled up about something only to forget their troubles the next day.
Unsure of their estranged son’s whereabouts, or even if he is living or dead, Axl and Beatrice set off on a journey to find him. Along the way, they befriend a skilled Saxon warrior, his young cursed apprentice, and Sir Gawain of King Arthur’s court.
This misfit group of travelers face ogres, pixies, and other monsters, but once they discover the cause of this mist, they must confront an even more fearful obstacle–whether to regain their lost memories or continue living in blissful ignorance of the truth.
As you can probably tell, this is no ordinary fantasy tale. Ishiguro packs so much metaphor into this story that what’s more interesting is what’s going on between the lines. His use of simple, stilted dialogue gives the impression that these characters are allegorical, and you quickly adjust from asking yourself what this book is to what this book means.
By far, the most intriguing part of The Buried Giant is the insertion of Greek myth with the enigmatic boatman. Rumor has it that couples who do not share a most cherished memory do not get ferried together, so how do Axl and Beatrice avoid separation when they cannot remember the past?
Although I did not enjoy The Buried Giant as much as Never Let Me Go, it’s still a fascinating tale of love and loss, as well as an apt reminder that history does indeed repeat itself for a reason. This book may not fit in with others in the fantasy section, but it will make readers appreciate a unique kind of magic: our memories.