Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan in 1954 and came to Britain at the age of five. He attended the University of Kent and studied English Literature and Philosophy, and later enrolled in an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of the novels A Pale View of Hills (winner of the Winifred Holtby Prize), An Artist of the Floating World (winner of the 1986 Whitbread Book of the Year Award, Premio Scanno, and shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize), The Remains of the Day (winner of the 1989 Booker Prize) and When We Were Orphans (shortlisted for the 2000 Booker Prize and Whitbread Novel of the Year). Kazuo Ishiguro's books have been translated into twenty-eight languages. The Remains of the Day became an international bestseller, with over a million copies sold in the English language alone, and was adapted into an award-winning film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.
Like Ishiguro's previous works (The Remains of the Day; When We Were Orphans), his sixth novel is so exquisitely observed that even the most workaday objects and interactions are infused with a luminous, humming otherworldliness. The dystopian story it tells, meanwhile, gives it a different kind of electric charge. Set in late 1990s England, in a parallel universe in which humans are cloned and raised expressly to "donate" their healthy organs and thus eradicate disease from the normal population, this is an epic ethical horror story, told in devastatingly poignant miniature. By age 31, narrator (and clone) Kathy H has spent nearly 12 years as a "carer" to dozens of "donors." Knowing that her number is sure to come up soon, she recounts-in excruciating detail-the fraught, minute dramas of her happily sheltered childhood and adolescence at Hailsham, an idyllic, isolated school/orphanage where clone-students are encouraged to make art and feel special. Protected (as is the reader, at first) from the full truth about their eventual purpose in the larger world, "we [students] were always just too young to understand properly the latest piece of information. But of course we'd take it in at some level, so that before long all this stuff was there in our heads without us ever having examined it properly." This tension of knowing-without-knowing permeates all of the students' tense, sweetly innocent interactions, especially Kath's touchingly stilted love triangle with two Hailsham classmates, manipulative Ruth and kind-hearted Tommy. In savoring the subtle shades of atmosphere and innuendo in these three small, tightly bound lives, Ishiguro spins a stinging cautionary tale of science outpacing ethics. Agent, Amanda Urban at ICM. 100,000 first printing; 9-city author tour. (Apr. 11) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"'A clear frontrunner to be the year's most extraordinary novel... Not since The Remains of the Day has Ishiguro written about wasted lives with such finely gauged forlornness.' Peter Kemp, Sunday Times 'Opressively brilliant... Ishiguro's most profound statement of the endurance of human relationships... the most exact and affecting of his books to date.' Tim Adams, Observer"
Ishiguro's previous novels, including the Booker Prize?winning The Remains of the Day and A Pale View of the Hills, have been exquisite studies of microcosmic worlds whose inhabitants struggle with loss and love, despair and hope. Above all, his characters strive to forge an enduring self-identity that can withstand the blows of an uncaring world. His new novel centers on one such character, Kathy H., and her attempts not only to find herself but also to understand her role in a mysterious world whose meanings she often fails to comprehend. As a child, Kathy H. attended Hailsham, a private preparatory school whose teachers and guardians sheltered the students from reality. Now 31, Kathy has assumed the position for which she was trained at Hailsham so long ago, and she has put the memories of her Hailsham days out of her mind. When she is thrown together with two of her old school friends, she begins to relive experiences that both call into question her friendships and deepen them. Her memories reveal also that the pastoral and pleasant Hailsham harbored dark and mysterious secrets that she now can begin to understand. Ishiguro's elegant prose and masterly ways with characterization make for a lovely tale of memory, self-understanding, and love. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/04.]-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-The elegance of Ishiguro's prose and the pitch-perfect voice of his narrator conspire to usher readers convincingly into the remembered world of Hailsham, a British boarding school for "special students." The reminiscence is told from the point of view of Kathy H., now 31, whose evocation of the sheltered estate's sunlit rolling hills, guardians, dormitories, and sports pavilions is imbued with undercurrents of muted tension and foreboding that presage a darker reality. As an adult, Kathy re-engages in lapsed friendships with classmates Ruth and Tommy, examining the details of their shared youth and revisiting with growing awareness the clues and anecdotal evidence apparent to them even as youngsters that they were "different" from everyone outside. Ultimately, readers learn that the Hailsham children are clones, raised solely for the purpose of medical harvesting of organs, their lifespan circumscribed by years when they are designated as carers, followed by a short period as active donors, culminating in what is obliquely referred to as "completion." The recovery centers where Kathy serves as a carer for Ruth and then Tommy provide the setting for the latter half of the novel, defining the distinct rhythms and tenor of their days much as Hailsham did when they were young. Ishiguro conveys with exquisite sensitivity the emotional texture of the threesome's relationship, their bonds of personal loyalty that overcome fractures of trust, the palpable boundaries of hope, and the human capacity for forgiveness. Highly recommended for literary merit and as an exceptional platform for the discussion of a controversial topic.-Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.