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A Pale View of Hills Paperback – September 12, 1990

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (September 12, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067972267X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679722670
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her daughter. In a story where past and present confuse, she relives scenes of Japan's devastation in the wake of World War II.

About the Author

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 and moved to Britain at the age of five. He is the author of five novels, including The Remains of the Day, an international bestseller that won the Booker Prize and was adapted into an award-winning film. Ishiguro's work has been translated into twenty-eight languages. In 1995, he received an Order of the British Empire for service to literature, and in 1998 was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

More About the Author

Kazuo Ishiguro is the author of six novels, including the international bestsellers The Remains of the Day (winner of the Booker Prize) and Never Let Me Go. He received an OBE for service to literature and the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Customer Reviews

We read this for our book club and it provoked a good discussion.
I am glad I did not read this debut novel as a first book of this author or I may not have gone onto read some of his other, great books, like "Never Let me go".
I was disappointed with the ending, though, in that I felt it did not quite hold together, and I was left with too much ambiguity.
Donna Scott

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Ken Fordyce on June 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ishiguro achieved this incredible debut novel by holding in the reins and managing to tell only what he felt necessary. The story tells of a Japanese lady, Etsuko, now living in England. Her first daughter, Keiko, has committed suicide by hanging herself, alone, in a flat in Manchester. It is the story of Etsuko looking back through her memories, trying to make sense of what happened, trying to pull some ends together. But we, just like she, are left unsure. She finds some answers but even more questions. Ishiguro has brilliantly transported us into the world of memory, dream, illusion. In her search for answers, Etsuko looks back at her life in Nagasaki less than a decade after the devastation of the atomic bomb. Typically, Ishiguro chooses not to look at this event directly. Instead he presents us with the disturbed and confused lives of those who survived. There is Mrs Fujiwara, bravely running a noodle shop, trying to be positive even though her husband and nearly all her children were killed. There is Etsuko's father-in-law, a teacher before and during the war who is struggling to come to terms with living in a society where everything he lived for is written off as evil brainwashing. Japan is trying to wash its hands clean of his type, and yet he appears such a decent and fair person. These characters are just the background to the main story but they are so brilliantly drawn. I shall not even try to clarify Etsuko's search for reasons. Let yourself be taken into her elegaic but ultimately futile look at her life in Japan before she left. The main issue underlying this story is the question of searching for self-fulfilment or submitting oneself to the restrictions of the society in which one lives.Read more ›
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93 of 104 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
A Pale View of Hills is a haunting and lyrical book that ends up asking more questions than it answers. And Kazuo Ishiguro is such a masterful storyteller that we can't help but wonder if this is not exactly as it should be. The story opens in modern day London, where Etsuko, a Japanese born women of middle-age is attempting to come to terms with the suicide of her elder daughter, Keiko. In doing so, she finds herself drawn to the past and a particular summer in Nagasaki when she embarked on a strange friendship with an enigmatic woman named Sachiko and Sachiko's young daughter, Mariko. Ishiguro's movements backwards and forwards in time are often abrupt and the reader can sometimes find himself slightly disoriented, but this still does not detract from the quiet beauty and lyricism of his prose. For Ishiguro is a master of lyrical prose, writing passages of unequalled beauty that authors like Anne Rice can only dream of. This is a most delicate novel, encompassing many themes, and one that ultimately becomes macabre--it may take more than one reading to absorb its full impact. It is definitely a small masterpiece, and the only reason I gave it four stars instead of five is because I believe Ishiguro should have revealed the truth of this extraordinary tale piece by piece, layer by layer, like peeling away the skin of an onion. As it is, the truth hits us in the face like a snowball out of nowhere and many readers may miss it entirely. A pity, for this is a work of extraodinary genius and beauty; one of the most moving books I have read in many years and one whose emotional impact will haunt me for many years to come. And I would not have expected less from a writer as talented as Kazuo Ishiguro.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Nessander VINE VOICE on November 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. The reviewers below have summarized the basic elements, so let me concentrate on style. If you enjoy books that do not have to be big on plot or action, but are instead beautifully crafted, realistic depictions of the profundities of life, with a strong atmospheric sense, then I am sure you will enjoy this subtle work. It is very short and easy to read, with the terse, clear style that made Ishiguro famous. Japanese readers will find the dialogue and characters and setting to be completely believable -- despite the fact that Ishiguro never went back to Japan before writing this novel (he grew up in England). Yet many people finish this book without really having grasped much of its essence.
The difficulty lies in drawing connections between events, characters and symbols. Some of them are interrelated within the work, others draw upon outside references (such as the symbolism of crossing the river being a metaphor for death, like the river Styx). This book is simply written enough to be enjoyed the first time, and yet complex enough to be read another two times. The remarkable thing is that when re-read (or read the first time, with an eye on grasping the symbolism and motifs) this book is actually not only a tragic tale, but a terrifying and disturbing one in its dark images of death, neglect and loss.
Readers of Ishiguro's other books may find this closest in style to "Artist of the Floating World", yet farthest from "The Unconsoled". In style, Ishiguro mastered this particular technique in "The Remains of the Day", which is also a book about loss, but with a romantic twist thrown in, and far less troubling that this earlier work. Read this book, and if it doesn't touch something in you - read it again.
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