Thursday, 17 May 2018

Ishiguro, Kazuo "The Remains of the Day"


Ishiguro, Kazuo "The Remains of the Day" - 1989

Years ago, I read "When We Were Orphans" with my book club. I didn't like it much and thought I might not read another book by this author. But since he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, I decided I should give him another chance.

"The Remains of the Day" was better, granted. However, not as great as some people told me it would be. I found the writing very lengthy and drawn-out, the sentences dwindling toward an end that has nothing to do with the beginning anymore. The story itself could he been told within five to ten pages at the most, the rest is a musing and meandering of a man who realizes that he is growing older and what could have been.

I might have been able to follow those thoughts and even sympathized with the butler but I found I couldn't. The protagonist doesn't appear to be an unlikeable character but the way he is described doesn't provoke any interest, the whole story just flows along like a small brook with no windings or curves. The book reads more like the minutes of a meeting than a novel.

Sorry, Mr. Ishiguro, I love reading the books by Nobel Prize winners (see below) but you don't belong to my favourites there.

Lessons learned. If I don't like the first book I read by an author, I am more than likely not going to like the other one, no matter how much my friends tell me that that is his or her worst novel or whether the author is highly regarded or not.

From the back cover:

"A contemporary classic, The Remains of the Day is Kazuo Ishiguro's beautiful and haunting evocation of life between the wars in a Great English House.

In the summer of 1956, Stevens, the ageing butler of Darlington Hall, embarks on a leisurely holiday that will take him deep into the countryside and into his past."

Kazuo Ishiguro "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world" received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017.

I contribute to this page: Read the Nobels and you can find all my blogs about Nobel Prize winning authors and their books here.

10 comments:

  1. I liked the movie made from this book and enjoyed the book even more. Wonder if it was because I had characters I could visualize from the movie.

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    1. That could be the reason but maybe you just liked the story better than I did. I would like to watch it because of Emma Thompson whom I love but I'm not a huge Anthony Hopkins fan, so I'll see ....

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  2. Hi Marianne, I really liked Remains of the Day so much so that I tried another of his titles (can't remember which one) but I didn't even bother finishing the first chapter! I've heard some good things about 'An Artist of the Floating World' & thought I'd try it but I'm only going to do so if I can find it at the library.

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    1. Well, I tried two of his books now and until I've read every book by Charles Dickens, Orhan Pamuk, Joyce Carol Oates and many other authors Ilove (see on the right under "Labels") I doubt I'll try another one ... ;)

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  3. Hi, Marianne! I'm glad I discovered your lovely blog and found some interesting titles that I will definitely get in my hands :D

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    1. Thank you, tXc, I see that you're from Germany and an expat gone foreign, so there are already two things we have in common (although it might be the other way around, LOL).

      That should help with finding many books you might enjoy. Would love to hear from you from time to time once you have read the same book.

      Happy Reading,
      Marianne

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  4. I have read Never Let Me Go and When We Were Orphans, but not this, his most famous book. I find his writing quite dark while at the same time muted as far as emotion goes. I wonder if that is because of his Asian background. In any case, you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

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    1. Haha, I should hope so. His Asian background might have had an influence on his writing but - as you know - I have read and love a lot of other Asian writers. Anyway, this is probably the last book I read by him because there are so many others I haven't explored, yet.

      Have a good weekend,
      Marianne

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  5. Remains of the Day failed to capture me until I saw the movie, then I had one of those ah-ha moments when I finally realised what Ishiguro was trying to do, his style etc. But I didn't try another one until The Buried Giant a couple of years ago, which I adored for it's gentle, meandering, dreamy style & story. I then tried his big hit, Never Let Me Go and forced myself to finish it, but with no enjoyment, understanding or care factor. Even after seeing the movie, I couldn't understand its popularity!

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    1. I see we understand each other. ;) I might watch the movie one day, I love Emma Thompson. I think I do understand what Ishiguro tries to do with his book, I lived in England for several years myself, but I still didn't really like his style. Don't think I ever will. So far the first Nobel Prize winner who has disappointed me (but already before he was appointed, LOL).

      Have a good weekend,
      Marianne

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