- Series: Vintage International
- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 5, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307455793
- ISBN-13: 978-0307455796
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,014 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Buried Giant (Vintage International) Paperback – January 5, 2016
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“Spectacular. . . . The Buried Giant has the clear ring of legend, as graceful, original and humane as anything Ishiguro has written.” —The Washington Post
“An exceptional novel. . . . The Buried Giant does what important books do: It remains in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave.” —Neil Gaiman, The New York Times Book Review
“Lush and thrilling, rolling the gothic, fantastical, political, and philosophical into one.” —The New Republic
“Mesmerizing. . . . A provocative, multilayered mosaic. . . . Lifetimes of myth, allegory, and epic discoveries are contained within.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“A literary tour de force so unassuming that you don't realize until the last page that you're reading a masterpiece.” —USA Today
“Splendid. . . . Excellent. . . . The Buried Giant is a simple and powerful tale of love, aging and loss.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Ishiguro is a master of the uncanny. . . . Few write about the mysteries of the human experience with such grace as Ishiguro, and his prodigious gifts are evident throughout the novel.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Devastating . . . As emotionally ruinous an ending as any I’ve read in a very long time, and it made me circle back to the opening pages, to re-enter the strange mist of this sad and remarkable book.” —Mark O’Connell, Slate
“A profound meditation on trauma, memory, and the collective lies nations and groups create to expiate their guilt.” —The Boston Globe
“If forced at knife-point to choose my favorite Ishiguro novel, I’d opt for The Buried Giant. It uses the tropes of fantasy to set up a smoke-screen which the book then, by twists and turns, dispels. This reveal gives the book a shadow-plot, and layers of mystery . . . An ideas-enabler, a metaphor-animator.” —David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks
“Ishiguro is a deft gut-renovator of genres, bringing fresh life and feeling to hollowed-out conventions. . . . The love story at its center shimmers with a mythic and melancholy grace.” —Vulture
“A beautiful, heartbreaking book about the duty to remember and the urge to forget.” —The Guardian (London)
“Powerful and disturbing. . . . Provokes strong emotions—and lingers long in the mind.” —The Economist
“A beautiful fable with a hard message at its core. . . . There won’t, I suspect, be a more important work of fiction published this year than The Buried Giant.” —John Sutherland, The Times (London)
“A novel of imaginative daring that, in its subtleties of tone, mood and reflection, could be the work of no other writer. . . . In the manner of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Ishiguro has created a fantastical alternate reality in which, in spite of the extremity of its setting and because of its integrity and emotional truth, you believe unhesitatingly.” — Financial Times
About the Author
Kazuo Ishiguro is the 2017 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. His work has been translated into more than 40 languages. Both The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go have sold more than 1 million copies, and both were adapted into highly acclaimed films. Ishiguro's other work includes The Buried Giant, Nocturnes, A Pale View of the Hills, and An Artist of the Floating World.
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This novel takes place in England and the time period is right after the reign of the legendary King Arthur - which is all somewhat deliberately vague. The storyline centers around the travels of 5 main characters.
The first two characters we meet - and indeed in many ways the central two characters - are an elderly couple who leave their village in search of their son. Their memories are fading and they are not sure where their son is or even what he looks like anymore. Their reason for leaving their village are hazy as well; ostensibly something to do with their being denied a candle by other villagers.
The other characters are a young boy, a brave warrior and a valiant old knight.
So much of the storyline is dreamlike and vague and I believe your ultimate enjoyment and satisfaction of this novel is based on the premise that the less you know the better, so I will only say a bit more without causing any spoilers.
We know that the characters all unite at some point. We know that they are all on different missions. Their goals are seemingly unclear but will become clear at the end.
I loved this book. At the same time I have to say that it was not a quick read for me and there were points up until midway when I thought about giving up on it. Part of this was that I am not usually a fan of books that are somewhat "dreamlike" or surreal and I usually like my stories more straight-forward and grounded. There are lots of points in this book where you feel your own memory is fading; indeed what it might be like to have dementia. That Ishiguro pulls this off so effectively is impressive but daunting for the reader.
So for me, this book took a bit of work, but I was so glad by the time I finished that I had read it. The prose, as with any of the other book by this author, is just gorgeous. You really don't want to skip one word and you really shouldn't.
I do promise you that it all comes together beautifully by the end, and it was quite an emotional read for me. The storyline is so heartfelt and very mythic in feel and Ishiguro has some poignant and powerful things to say about love and vengeance, morals and ethics and about memory and reflection. Just amazing.
( I went on to read some of the author's other works: they're quite different, both from this and really, from each other: but just as skilfully written! I now have a new author to follow)
The Buried Giant is an ideal example of what rich, meaningful, challenging literary fantasy can do.
It's reminiscent of Ishiguro's own work (Never Let Me Go similarly exemplifies the potential of literary science fiction) but also of the philosophical, allegorical, character-driven fantasy of Mervyn Peake, Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, and Margo Lanagan (whose amazing Tender Morsels is also a must-read), among others. Imagine Wolfe's Wizard Knight series with its Arthurian setting and unpredictability but with elderly protagonists, a smaller cast, and a focus on memory (and how it can provide meaning and also create pain--for individuals and nations) and you'll have a good picture of what to expect from The Buried Giant.
Literal events are comprehensible with some effort (despite shifting points of view and breaks in chronology as characters start stories and only later explain the events leading up to them), but the novel leaves open profound questions about love, war, violence, and memory. It's also consistently beautiful and engaging at the sentence level--unlike in much generic fantasy (which sometimes presents elaborate worlds and plots but falls flat in emotion, dialogue, and characterization), characters each speak and act in completely distinct ways, and there is wit and meaningful, often moving emotions in the smallest incidents. The novel is more about its characters and themes than its plot, and it isn't dependent on lots of things happening, but by the end, the lives of the characters, and the shape of their world, are indeed fundamentally changed.
Unfortunately, books like this often disappoint the two groups of readers who give them a chance: readers of realistic literary fiction, who are turned off that it's fantasy, which they foolishly see as subliterary (even though most of the history of literature before the development of realism actually consists of what we'd now consider fantasy, and the kind of primarily commercial fantasy thought to define the genre is merely an invention of the last few decades), and readers of generic/commercial fantasy, whose conventional expectations (a standard quest, action, completely clear storytelling, an enormous amount of world-building, etc.) will be frustrated by the novel's literary style and focus on character and theme.
But for those who can appreciate literary fantasy (my own favorite form of literature), it will be magical--the kind of book to read and reread and give to others in the hopes they will feel the same.