Klara and the Sun: a welcome return to form
Kazuo Ishiguro uses poignant understatement to explore AI, loneliness and privilege
Kazuo Ishiguro: His new novel concerns an android of unusual curiosity and perceptiveness, especially in the reading of human emotions. Photograph: Andrew Testa/New York Times
Klara and the Sun is a welcome return to form for Kazuo Ishiguro in his first novel since 2015’s The Buried Giant, which baffled and divided critics and fans alike. Set in a post-Arthurian Britain, where a sleeping dragon breathes an amnesia-inducing “mist” over the land so that the inhabitants can forget the recent violent conflict, The Buried Giant seemed intent on explicitly allegorising what had been left compellingly implicit in Ishiguro’s previous works.
Ishiguro has frequently exploited a range of genres in pursuit of his cardinal themes – the capriciousness of memory, the difficulty of acknowledging uncomfortable truths, and the contingency of what makes us human. When We Were Orphans put a postmodern spin on the detective novel. Never Let Me Go’s depiction of a society dependent on harvesting clones’ organs sat squarely within the genre of dystopian fiction.