Kazuo Ishiguro is one of my favourite contemporary writers at the moment. I’ve read 4 of his books now and he skips effortlessly across genres, times, and characters. No two that I’ve read are alike- the only recurring themes as far as I can tell are time and memory, and a pervasive sense of melancholy and nostalgia.
Never Let Me Go follows Kathy, a carer in the 1990s living in the UK, remembering her idyllic childhood at her very alternative, artsy boarding school Hailsham.
The first two thirds of the book chronicles tiny joys and teenage frustrations; falling out with your best friend, lost cassette tapes, a first crush. It’s so mundane and universal so as to be banal. Kathy isn’t the most direct of narrators either. Dare I say it, it’s relatable but boring because we’ve all experienced it.
Ishiguro is so clever for tricking you into thinking it’s just another childhood memoir- the dawning realisation that all is not as it seems and adult loss of innocence is so slow and subtle. The denouement creeps up on you, and suddenly the build is not at all dull, just desperately tragic. Before you know it you’ve had an unexpected sudden attack of hay fever.
Read: When you’re nostalgic for your childhood best friend.