If you love books, if you’re looking for a new book, today is a good day. Today is the release of Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and The Sun, published by Penguin Random House, his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize. And we need it, we need it more than ever.
Obviously the reviews are outstanding. The Guardian calls it “another masterpiece”. The word “master” has been coming up a lot in reference to Ishiguro. Near the end of his piece on Klara yesterday in The New Yorker, James Wood, in writing about Ishiguro’s literary preoccupation over the last two decades, concludes by identifying the “searching doubt of Ishiguro’s recent novels, in which this master, so utterly unlike his peers, goes about creating his ordinary, strange, godless allegories”.
The reason why Ishiguro’s works are “godless” though is because he prefers to focus on the divine potential of humanity and, I think, through his characters and his stories, he is participating in an effort to reclaim it. For now, more than ever, it’s probably true that we’ve lost much of the essence of what it means to be human – and that is to care.
That was the point of Never Let Me Go, and it is the point of Klara and The Sun, an especially vital work now, after a year in which we have become more disconnected from each other and perhaps even from ourselves. If we are honest though, and Ishiguro almost forces us to be with his work, we’ve been heading there for a while now. To the point where even our understanding of care, what it is exactly, and how it should feel, has probably been distorted. Ishiguro posits that this distortion is several layers deep; Klara is a dystopian tale, featuring a fake human who is telling us about ourselves through observation – that we are already in dystopia and we don’t even know it. After all, what could possibly be more dystopian than a reality in which so many have forgotten how to care?
These are the questions that Ishiguro is wrestling with in Klara and The Sun and these are the questions he’s inviting us to unpack with him with his book. And we can do it together…want to come?
You, me, and Ishiguro at Wordfest next Tuesday, March 9. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE. Send me your ideas for the conversations. What do you want to talk to him about? What would you like his thoughts on? What should I ask… a NOBEL LAUREATE?!
Am I freaking out? F-ck yes.
That’s why I want you there with me, so we can freak out together. But mostly, so that we can hear from this master who wants to learn along with us. That’s the thing about Ishiguro. He may be better than we are at describing the truth but he’s quite clear about not being better than any of us in knowing what to do about it. And what he’s most interested in is how we can figure it out together.
I hope you join us. Once again, you can buy your tickets here.
Yours in gossip,