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Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant

Books & Poetry

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From multi-award-winner Kazuo Ishiguro comes the tale (10 years in the writing) of elderly Britons Axl and Beatrice, whose memories, like many around them, are being slowly consumed by the breath of a resident dragon.

Setting off across their divided, ancient land – one plagued by ogres and Saxons and mad monks – in search of their son, the couple are constantly plagued by the loss of the past and the insecurity of the future.

Buried-Giant-coverIshiguro (author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker-Prize-winning The Remains of the Day) has written a fable, one focused primarily on society and its inherent trivialities, but also one that drifts, like memory itself, into personal crisis and fear.

How will Axl and Beatrice deal with the boatman’s questions about their love, should they reach the crossing to the island? This is the main thread, often unravelled into mystic sidebars and underground slayings but always neatly re-tied by Ishiguo’s mastery of the story.

Accompanied on their journey by a Saxon warrior and a strange boy bitten by a dragon, then aided and abetted by an ancient knight of King Arthur, Axl and Beatrice must not only confront their own loss of identity, but also trust, when trust is the least of their diminishing abilities.

This simplistically written but intricate tale journeys slowly through a land forgotten by many, and about to be claimed again by the ever-marauding hordes of history. While it is not fantastical, nor breath-taking, Ishiguro nonetheless continues to write in a unique voice, one that echoes in the subconscious rather than screams at the conscious – and that is a rare gift, almost as rare as the gift uncovered by the buried giant.

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is published by Faber & Faber, $29.99.

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