I’ve been wanting to see how Kazuo Ishiguro’s early work stacks up to his more famous novels (i.e., The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go). So, I read A Pale View of Hills, his first novel, and was rather intrigued by the whole process.
The story begins an older Japanese woman living in London processes the recent suicide of her eldest daughter, Keiko. Her younger daughter Niki is visiting, and it is in this visit that old memories resurface, and she comes face-to-face with a memory of her neighbor and her neighbor’s troubled daughter, after World War II has ravaged Japan.
There is a sense of memory loss, or unreality, in Ishiguro’s works, and it is fascinating how one can feel detached or disconnected through these texts. As with Ryder, the narrator of The Unconsoled, the narrator here continually wanders as if in a dream, and has to force herself to catch her bearings and sift through the simultaneous passings of time. It also felt as if Ishiguro, himself a self-identifying Englishman, is trying to process his relationship to Japan, while feeling an actual kinship with England instead.
While this was an interesting read, I definitely saw it as a “first novel” and would probably not teach it, unless I get the (highly unlikely) chance to teach an Ishiguro seminar someday.