Cover image for
Title:
The buried giant
Author(s):
Ishiguro, Kazuo, 1954-
ISBN/ISSN:
9780307271037

030727103X
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
URL::
Cover image 9780307271037.jpg
Physical Description:
317 pages ; 25 cm.
General Note:
"This is a Borzoi book."
Abstract:
"The Romans have long since departed, and the Britian 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 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"--Dust jacket.
Pub Date:
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.

©2015.
Holds:

Available:*

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Summary

Summary

From the author of Never Let Me Go  and the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day
 
The Romans have long since 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 savage, sometimes mysterious, always intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel in a decade tells a luminous story about the act of forgetting and the power of memory, a resonant tale of love, vengeance, and war.


Author Notes

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan on November 8, 1954. In 1960, his family moved to England. He received a bachelor's degree in English and philosophy from the University of Kent in 1978 and a master's degree in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in 1980. He became a British citizen in 1982.

His first novel, A Pale View of Hills, received the Winifred Holtby Award from the Royal Society of Literature. His second novel, An Artist of the Floating World, received the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1986. His third novel, The Remains of the Day, won the 1989 Booker Prize and was adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. His other works include The Unconsoled, When We Were Orphans, Never Let Me Go, and The Buried Giant. He was awarded the OBE in 1995 for services to literature and the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1998.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ishiguro's new novel is set in Arthurian England-not the mythic land of knights, castles, and pageants most of us are familiar with, but a primitive and rural country likely far closer to historical reality. This is a gray and superstitious place, rather than a battlefield alive with the color and movement of steeds and fluttering banners; it's sparsely inhabited and scarcely advanced. Candles are preciously hoarded, and simple folk cluster together for safety amid vast stretches of untamed and fear-inspiring wilderness. The grim-textured, circa-sixth-century landscape is also a country haunted by magic, where ogres loom in the dark and steal children, and dragons are hunted by faded warriors like Sir Gawain. But its magic remains in the background, an earthy fact of life rather than a dazzle of sparkling make believe. Here British peasants eke out a hardscrabble existence from caves dug into hillsides, while the recent Saxon invaders live in more-advanced villages of rudimentary huts. A strange fog hovers over the dreary countryside-where an uneasy peace has balanced on a knife edge since the end of the most recent wars-robbing the populace of its memories. Into this countryside our protagonists-an elderly, ailing British couple named Axl and Beatrice-embark on a pilgrimage to the village of their half-forgotten son. It's a sad, elegiac story, one that has a tone and texture suited to its subject matter: a dreamy journey, repetitive and searching as lost memory. Conversations are formal and stilted, but their carefully crafted formality lends an austere rigor to the proceedings-Axl and Beatrice are following a gentle old-people's quest, not a dashing young knight's. Although they do cover literal ground and encounter figures of myth and legend along the way, their real search is clearly interior, a painstaking effort to know themselves and each other by piecing together the vestiges of their past. Memory is inseparable from personhood, in Beatrice's view, and personhood must be known for love to be authentic. Though she and Axl seem devoted to each other ("Princess," he calls her insistently, though she's manifestly anything but), she believes that their devotion, in the absence of memory, may prove insufficient to keep them together when they die. Her guiding fear is that the couple will be separated in the afterlife-on the "island," as the world of the dead is represented here-if they can't show the Charon-like boatman tasked with rowing them over that they know each other, and love each other, well enough to be granted the rare privilege of crossing that last water together rather than alone. The gift of remembering, as it turns out, will come at a steep price, not for the two aging and kindhearted Britons but for their country. The Buried Giant is a slow, patient novel, decidedly unshowy but deliberate and precise-easy to read but difficult to forget. © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

In Ishiguro's first novel since 2006 (Never Let Me Go), the award-winning author reinvents himself once again. It is a fable-like story about an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, who reside in a village that is made up of underground warrens and is sometimes menaced by ogres. One day they get it into their heads to track down their son, who vanished years ago, although they cannot remember exactly why. In fact, their whole village seems to be struggling with memory loss, with residents forgetting from one day to the next key incidents and people from their pasts. Despite their advanced years and their many aches and pains, Axl and Beatrice set out on a perilous journey, encountering along the way a smooth-talking boatman, a wailing widow, and, most momentously, an ancient, garrulous knight and an intrepid warrior. Ishiguro's story is a deceptively simple one, for enfolded within its elemental structure are many profound truths, including its beautiful and memorable portrait of a long-term marriage and its subtle commentary on the eternity of war, all conveyed in the author's mesmerizing prose. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Two of Ishiguro's novels, The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, have more than a million copies in print and were adapted into acclaimed films; pent-up demand will fuel requests for his latest work.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2015 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Imagine an existence without memory. Lacking context, would war become obsolete? Or family strife? This is the concept introduced in Ishiguro's latest, which appears ten years after his acclaimed Never Let Me Go. Set in first-century England, this parable revolves around Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple tired of living in the dark. Fleeting memories haunt them but disappear with the morning mist. Did they once have a son? When did he leave? Why? They set out on a journey looking for answers but, as befitting a quest novel, obstacles abound. Axl and Beatrice are plagued by ogres and pixies, joined by a Saxon warrior and an errant knight from Arthur's court, and have their lifelong devotion to each other tested in disturbing ways. Though the book is wildly different in setting and style from the author's previous fiction, fans will recognize familiar themes, including the elusiveness of memory and the slow fading of love. Alas, Ishiguro's reliance on a tedious, repetitive back-and-forth conversation between the couple detracts from the story. VERDICT Ishiguro's career spans over 30 years, highlighted by Booker winner The Remains of the Day and Whitbread winner An Artist of the Floating World, yet this quasifantasy falls short as the medium to deliver the author's lofty message. [See Prepub Alert, 9/8/14.]-Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One You would have searched a long time for the sort of winding lane or tranquil meadow for which England later became celebrated. There were instead miles of desolate, uncultivated land; here and there rough-hewn paths over craggy hills or bleak moorland. Most of the roads left by the Romans would by then have become broken or overgrown, often fading into wilderness. Icy fogs hung over rivers and marshes, serving all too well the ogres that were then still native to this land. The people who lived nearby--one wonders what desperation led them to settle in such gloomy spots--might well have feared these creatures, whose panting breaths could be heard long before their deformed figures emerged from the mist. But such monsters were not cause for astonishment. People then would have regarded them as everyday hazards, and in those days there was so much else to worry about. How to get food out of the hard ground; how not to run out of firewood; how to stop the sickness that could kill a dozen pigs in a single day and produce green rashes on the cheeks of children. In any case, ogres were not so bad provided one did not provoke them. One had to accept that every so often, perhaps following some obscure dispute in their ranks, a creature would come blundering into a village in a terrible rage, and despite shouts and brandishings of weapons, rampage about injuring anyone slow to move out of its path. Or that every so often, an ogre might carry off a child into the mist. The people of the day had to be philosophical about such outrages. In one such area on the edge of a vast bog, in the shadow of some jagged hills, lived an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice. Perhaps these were not their exact or full names, but for ease, this is how we will refer to them. I would say this couple lived an isolated life, but in those days few were "isolated" in any sense we would understand. For warmth and protection, the villagers lived in shelters, many of them dug deep into the hillside, connecting one to the other by underground passages and covered corridors. Our elderly couple lived within one such sprawling warren--"building" would be too grand a word--with roughly sixty other villagers. If you came out of their warren and walked for twenty minutes around the hill, you would have reached the next settlement, and to your eyes, this one would have seemed identical to the first. But to the inhabitants themselves, there would have been many distinguishing details of which they would have been proud or ashamed. I have no wish to give the impression that this was all there was to the Britain of those days; that at a time when magnificent civilisations flourished elsewhere in the world, we were here not much beyond the Iron Age. Had you been able to roam the countryside at will, you might well have discovered castles containing music, fine food, athletic excellence; or monasteries with inhabitants steeped in learning. But there is no getting around it. Even on a strong horse, in good weather, you could have ridden for days without spotting any castle or monastery looming out of the greenery. Mostly you would have found communities like the one I have just described, and unless you had with you gifts of food or clothing, or were ferociously armed, you would not have been sure of a welcome. I am sorry to paint such a picture of our country at that time, but there you are. To return to Axl and Beatrice. As I said, this elderly couple lived on the outer fringes of the warren, where their shelter was less protected from the elements and hardly benefited from the fire in the Great Chamber where everyone congregated at night. Perhaps there had been a time when they had lived closer to the fire; a time when they had lived with their children. In fact, it was just such an idea that would drift into Axl's mind as he lay in his bed during the empty hours before dawn, his wife soundly asleep beside him, and then a sense of some unnamed loss would gnaw at his heart, preventing him from returning to sleep. Perhaps that was why, on this particular morning, Axl had abandoned his bed altogether and slipped quietly outside to sit on the old warped bench beside the entrance to the warren in wait for the first signs of daylight. It was spring, but the air still felt bitter, even with Beatrice's cloak, which he had taken on his way out and wrapped around himself. Yet he had become so absorbed in his thoughts that by the time he realised how cold he was, the stars had all but gone, a glow was spreading on the horizon, and the first notes of birdsong were emerging from the dimness. He rose slowly to his feet, regretting having stayed out so long. He was in good health, but it had taken a while to shake off his last fever and he did not wish it to return. Now he could feel the damp in his legs, but as he turned to go back inside, he was well satisfied: for he had this morning succeeded in remembering a number of things that had eluded him for some time. Moreover, he now sensed he was about to come to some momentous decision--one that had been put off far too long--and felt an excitement within him which he was eager to share with his wife. Inside, the passageways of the warren were still in complete darkness, and he was obliged to feel his way the short distance back to the door of his chamber. Many of the "doorways" within the warren were simple archways to mark the threshold to a chamber. The open nature of this arrangement would not have struck the villagers as compromising their privacy, but allowed rooms to benefit from any warmth coming down the corridors from the great fire or the smaller fires permitted within the warren. Axl and Beatrice's room, however, being too far from any fire had something we might recognise as an actual door; a large wooden frame criss-crossed with small branches, vines and thistles which someone going in and out would each time have to lift to one side, but which shut out the chilly draughts. Axl would happily have done without this door, but it had over time become an object of considerable pride to Beatrice. He had often returned to find his wife pulling off withered pieces from the construct and replacing them with fresh cuttings she had gathered during the day. This morning, Axl moved the barrier just enough to let himself in, taking care to make as little noise as possible. Here, the early dawn light was leaking into the room through the small chinks of their outer wall. He could see his hand dimly before him, and on the turf bed, Beatrice's form still sound asleep under the thick blankets. He was tempted to wake his wife. For a part of him felt sure that if, at this moment, she were awake and talking to him, whatever last barriers remained between him and his decision would finally crumble. But it was some time yet until the community roused itself and the day's work began, so he settled himself on the low stool in the corner of the chamber, his wife's cloak still tight around him. He wondered how thick the mist would be that morning, and if, as the dark faded, he would see it had seeped through the cracks right into their chamber. But then his thoughts drifted away from such matters, back to what had been preoccupying him. Had they always lived like this, just the two of them, at the periphery of the community? Or had things once been quite different? Earlier, outside, some fragments of a remembrance had come back to him: a small moment when he was walking down the long central corridor of the warren, his arm around one of his own children, his gait a little crouched not on account of age as it might be now, but simply because he wished to avoid hitting his head on the beams in the murky light. Possibly the child had just been speaking to him, saying something amusing, and they were both of them laughing. But now, as earlier outside, nothing would quite settle in his mind, and the more he concentrated, the fainter the fragments seemed to grow. Perhaps these were just an elderly fool's imaginings. Perhaps it was that God had never given them children. You may wonder why Axl did not turn to his fellow villa­gers for assistance in recalling the past, but this was not as easy as you might suppose. For in this community the past was rarely discussed. I do not mean that it was taboo. I mean that it had somehow faded into a mist as dense as that which hung over the marshes. It simply did not occur to these villagers to think about the past--even the recent one. To take an instance, one that had bothered Axl for some time: He was sure that not so long ago, there had been in their midst a woman with long red hair--a woman regarded as crucial to their village. Whenever anyone injured themselves or fell sick, it had been this red-haired woman, so skilled at healing, who was immediately sent for. Yet now this same woman was no longer to be found anywhere, and no one seemed to wonder what had occurred, or even to express regret at her absence. When one morning Axl had mentioned the matter to three neighbours while working with them to break up the frosted field, their response told him that they genuinely had no idea what he was talking about. One of them had even paused in his work in an effort to remember, but had ended by shaking his head. "Must have been a long time ago," he had said. Excerpted from THE BURIED GIANT by Kazuo Ishiguro. Copyright © 2015 by Kazuo Ishiguro. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpted from The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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