Klara and the Sun

This is so clearly an Ishiguro book. It is soft and subtle and uses the voice of a wonderful protagonist whose blissful naivete (sometimes deliberate, sometimes incidental) wins you over to their side before smacking you once, then twice, then a third time with how terrible a lot they've inherited. The reveal of many things in this story (Klara's fate; the role of the "portrait"; the status of being "lifted") is so similar to the reveal of [[Remains of the Day]]'s protagonist's master's Nazi sympathies, or the central raison d'etre of [[Never Let Me Go]]. It is perhaps a little more heavy-handed and explicit than those books, which I think you can reasonably argue are better pieces of literature; this feels more like a victory lap, of Ishiguro underlining his particular brand of storytelling even with pieces that are on the whole a little less satisfying.

But I loved this book more than critical consensus, largely because of Klara who I would defend to the death. Her voice, robotic and sweet, is a vision of artificial life that I think is more earnest and winning than the scores of "what if AI but soft dystopia" books that have paved the road. It reminds me of, if anything, [[Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō]], a piece of art similarly less concerned with the "how and why" of civilization collapse and more concerned with the "what next?".

And the ending image that we're left with — Klara in the Yard, a place both chilling and mundane, with her happy and satisfied to sift through her hard-earned memories, is an image that will stick with me for a long time.

8/4/2022
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