Two weekends ago, I heard that Kazuo Ishiguro was coming out with his FIRST novel in ten years. Unfortunately, I have to wait almost another year until it’s released, and Amazon doesn’t have a pre-order option yet. So…I decided to revisit a favorite in the meantime (and sometime this next month, I’ll also be going back to The Remains of the Day for dissertation work–hooray!).
Never Let Me Go is Ishiguro’s turn at dystopic fiction, and he really should do it more often (spoiler alert: he’s quite good at it). We meet the first-person narrator, Kathy H, a young woman who serves as a “carer.” She notes that her days of caring for others will soon be over, as she will begin her “donations” in the next year. We find out what these mean all in good time. She also spends a great deal of time reminiscing on her school days at an English country boarding school–Hailsham. There, she pieces together her past to try and find the clues of when she first realized that she and her companions were different than the teachers and how their identities came together.
As a tale about the value of human life, Never Let Me Go is simply crushing. It’s devastating to think that we value some life over others, particularly for self-interested reasons. Ishiguro raises some highly interesting questions about what it means to be human and how we identify ourselves as such. But he does so in a way that’s not preachy or moralistic. Rather, he creates a compelling narrative and lets the story do the work for him–that’s probably why he’s one of my favorite writers of all time.