More to this tale then meets the eye…
Kazuo Ishiguro has been receiving mixed reviews for his first published work in ten years, The Buried Giant. A highly anticipated arrival onto the book market, due in part to the length between releases, but mainly because of Ishiguro’s literary history and triumphs.
With four previous Booker Prize nominations, and one winner in the acclaimed The Remains of The Day, it’s no wonder expectations had been set high. Also, due to the interesting choice of genre it’s no wonder the reviews range from interesting & insightful to this slightly harsh piece.
So, after ten years, what do we find within these fresh pages? A fantasy novel… Controversial! It certainly is a fantasy novel, on the surface anyway. It’s breaking the surface and doing some digging that helps to unearth some real value.
Set in a post-Arthurian Britain, complete with mischievous sprites, villainous ogres and (my favourite) the ‘gingerly’ sword wielding of Gawain. The story follows ‘husband’ and ‘princess’, oops, I mean Axl and Beatrice. An ageing husband and wife combo whose quest is to find their son.
Or is it to find their lost memories?
Well, perhaps they can look for both. The Britons and the Saxons of Ishiguro’s novel have all got rather short memories due to ‘the mist’ which swamps the land.
This is the surface narrative – buried beneath this lurks the truth. The memory loss is mainly attributed to the breath of Querig, a terrifying(…ly disappointing) she-dragon. However, shades of memories return and previous acquaintances are remade – an ethnic cleanse is briefly hinted at, and, as a result, the more plausible signs of repression seem to begin to surface… But I’ll let you make your own mind up about that – comment below how you felt about the motif of ‘bad memories’ (…double points if you get the pun there!?).
Overall I enjoyed listening to this book (I have it as an audio book, because of my ridiculously long walk to work…). Readers/listeners may become peeved at the slightly odd narrative path which begins with numerous chapters devoted to Axl and Beatrice, yet later there are a few convoluted chapters dedicated to the warrior, his confused disciple and the elderly knight Gawain. I eventually began, however, to enjoy this complex narrative because I felt that it represented characteristics of all of our lives. To me, it reinforces that every person one has ever met, and will ever meet, is taking part in their own, infinitely personal quest: to get from one end to the other, and to take only the best memories along with them…