Monday, September 10, 2018

The Buried Giant | Kazuo Ishiguro


THE BURIED GIANT by Kazuo Ishiguro was published in March of 2015 and rings in at 317 pages. With nearly 52,000 ratings on Goodreads, it's hailed and critiqued by book reviewers, authors, and professionals alike. For those concerned about accessibility, there is a lovely audiobook version available on Amazon as well as through myriad public libraries, narrated by David Horovitch. Author Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize in Literature last year, so it's probably not too grand of an assumption to guess that hiring him to speak at a University event would be expensive. (Worth it, in my opinion.)

Though THE BURIED GIANT is one of the longer books of the five that I've chosen, it's immensely readable. I've been listening to Horovitch as I follow along with an e-book, and the whole of it is pleasantly lulling. It's paced like a fairy tale even though it isn't one. It's got all of the elements of Arthurian legend even though it isn't one. If anything, I think that the book's ability to straddle genre (fantasy? sci-fi? 'regular' fiction?) only makes it more appealing to as mixed a group of readers as I'm sure the incoming freshmen class will be. It'll be impossible to find a book for everyone, but if approached with an open mind, THE BURIED GIANT comes close. (Moreover, it's not a 'hard' book in any sense. While there are twists and the lack of constant dialogue tagging may lose readers at points, there's no truly insurmountable language or slow build-up of dreary narrative.)


THE BURIED GIANT is, at its heart, about memory. The mist covering the lands through which our protagonists stride to reach their son is thick and frightening. It steals their memories. The characters in this book struggle with remembering events of even the day before, but as they journey on, they're reminded of little bits of their lives together and apart that, collectively, keep the narrative fresh and exciting. This could appeal to a variety of academic disciplines: neuroscience and psychology students may attack the science of memory; humanities and education majors may look into the necessity of human relationships; literature and linguistics students may consider the language of these lost memories alone, or examine how dialogue shifts when a faded memory is rediscovered. 


Yet, alas, as much as I love this book and enjoy my hours under the spell of Horovitch's narration, the point of these Honors Read reviews is to figure out if the books in question relate enough to the Honors College's theme of transformation. They're hoping to find books that are somewhat digital (if only TBG featured an android instead of a dragon!) but I don't think it's wholly fair to limit the theme in that way. You don't have to physically transform to become anything more important than what you started as. (Or, maybe you need a dragon bite.) 

The transformation of Axl and Beatrice and their lot of semi-adventurers feels internal.


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