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The Buried Giant: A novel Hardcover – March 3, 2015

3.8 out of 5 stars 1,925 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“If forced at knife-point to choose my favourite 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
“Completely astonishing. I can't think of another writer who keeps finding such new and radically unexpected ways of exploring—and deepening—his lifelong concerns. Which is a way of saying that I can't think of another writer who's so unswervingly serious, as well as impeccable, stripping away every distraction to get to the core of things, as a Beckett might, and attaining in the end an almost unbearable intensity of emotional directness.”
 —Pico Iyer, author of The Art of Stillness and The Lady and the Monk
“The Buried Giant does what important books do: It remains in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave, forcing one to turn it over and over . . . Ishiguro is not afraid to tackle huge, personal themes, nor to use myths, history and the fantastic as the tools to do it. The Buried Giant is an exceptional novel.”
—Neil Gaiman, The New York Times Book Review 
“Ishiguro is a brilliant novelist, a born novelist. . . . Inside his work, you feel it, that thrilling thing: a writer doing something actually different, something actually new. . . . [The Buried Giant] creates an entire field of unspoken meaning, illuminating the kind of elusive truths about love, time, death and memory that other novelists have to strain even to brush. . . . That’s the magic of true art. . . . When one day we send some unmanned capsule into the nameless depths of space to give and account of ourselves, it’s [Ishiguro’s] books I would include on our behalf.”
—Charles Finch, Chicago Tribune

“Ishiguro is one of Britain’s best living novelists . . . Magnificent and heartbreaking . . . Of all writers working in the early 21st century, he will turn out to be the one who persisted—who went on asking questions about what binds people to one another; who said something profound about history, and something unsentimental about love.”
—Gaby Wood, The Telegraph (London)

“The weirdest, riskiest and most ambitious thing he’s published in his celebrated 33-year career.”
—Alexandra Alter, The New York Times
“Ishiguro works this fantastical material with the tools of a master realist. . . . [He] makes us feel its sheer grotesque monstrosity with a force and freshness that have been leached away by legions of computer-generated orcs. . . . He keeps a straight face, but Ishiguro has fun with the swords and sorcery: he’s a lifelong fan of samurai manga and westerns, and some of the action has the feel of a classic showdown scored by Ennio Morricone.”
 —Lev Grossman, Time magazine

“Ishiguro is in full genre-occupying mode here, settling an imaginative region, capturing its tropes and conditions, and establishing within it his own peculiar sovereignty. . . . For all that The Buried Giant clothes itself in the armor of chivalric romance and fantasy, it is also subtly using these formal structures to subvert from within the kinds of national mythologies that are so often built around them. . . . 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

“[The Buried Giant is] a profound examination of memory and guilt, of the way we recall past trauma en masse. It is also an extraordinarily atmospheric and compulsively readable tale, to be devoured in a single gulp. The Buried Giant is Game of Thrones with a conscience, The Sword in the Stone for the age of the trauma industry, a beautiful, heartbreaking book about the duty to remember and the urge to forget.”
—Alex Preston, The Guardian (London)

“Lifetimes of myth, allegory, and epic discoveries are contained within . . . In this as with Ishiguro’s previous fiction, the mesmerizing prose ensures that the pages will turn swiftly. Without a doubt, Giant is Ishiguro’s most complex book thus far, managing to combine elements of Edenic epic, Roman myth, Arthurian quest, Tolkien fantasy, philosophical ruminations, religious dialectics, literary experimentation, and more to create an exquisitely rendered, albeit disturbing love story set against the unresolved threat of war—past and future both. . . . Ishiguro’s 10-year investment comes to eloquent fruition here. The result is a provocative, multilayered mosaic.”
—Terry Hong, The Christian Science Monitor
“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. . . . The Buried Giant transcends the boundaries of a conventional fantasy novel. At its core, it is a tender story about marriage, memory and forgiveness, the tale of an elderly couple who set off to find a half-remembered son. And the questions that emerge in the course of their journey—as they contend with pixies and Saxon warriors, devious boatmen and duplicitous monks, as they begin to recall a past they might be better off forgetting—cut to the heart of the life’s mystery.”
—Michael David Lukas, San Francisco Chronicle
“A spectacular, rousing departure from anything Ishiguro has ever written, and yet a classic Ishiguro story . . . The Buried Giant has the clear ring of legend, as graceful, original and humane as anything Ishiguro has written. . . . All the same, I’ll wager you won’t soon forget this book after turning its last pages. The close, in particular, will haunt.”
—Marie Arana, The Washington Post

“Yet for all its flights of fantasy and supernatural happenings . . . The Buried Giant is absolutely characteristic, moving and unsettling, in the way of all Ishiguro’s fiction. . . . 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. . . . Even after you have finished the book, many days later, you find you can’t stop thinking about it.”
—Jason Cowley, Financial Times
 “Mr. Ishiguro’s work is never simple. He has always been a trickster, a shape-changer, courageously exploring the novel’s form, and this new book is no exception. His language is plain and clear. But the stories he tells with his clean words are powerful and disturbing. . . . No doubt this book will divide opinion powerfully: but it provokes strong emotions—and lingers long in the mind.”
The Economist
“The story sweeps us in not through the imagination of its monsters and magic mists, but by a prose style so distinctive that everything it touches, however airy . . . becomes earthly, solid, with an emotional purchase usually reserved for the ‘real.’ . . . This is a novel that does not answer every question it raises about war, love, memory; but it doesn’t have to. It takes us on a journey that is as deep as it is mesmerizing, ogres an’ all.”
—Arifa Akbar, The Independent (London)

“Hallucinatory . . . subtle and complex . . . At the heart of The Buried Giant, luminous amid all the dragons and warring knights, is a deeply affecting portrait of marital love. . . . A power and a strangeness that are, in the Shakespearean sense of the word, weird . . . For all the deconstruction The Buried Giant performs on its manifold sources and inspirations, the ultimate measure of Ishiguro’s achievement is that his novel is more than worthy to take its place alongside them. The quest undertaken by Axl and Beatrice is not merely a search for their son, but one that follows in the footsteps of Sir Gawain, and Tennyson’s King Arthur, and Frodo.”
—Tom Holland, The Guardian (London)
“The prose, as in many of Ishiguro’s novels, is lapidary and beguiling, suggestive of secrets to be disclosed. . . . For Ishiguro, our poet laureate of loss, the mercies of forgetfulness hold the greater fascination . . . The Buried Giant is ultimately a story about long love and making terms with oblivion. It is an eerie hybrid: a children’s fable about old age. In Ishiguro’s novel, as in life, love conquers all—all, that is, but death.”
—Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic
“Ishiguro is, as ever, very readable . . . the novel is moving and strangely resonant. I suspect him of being wise, of having a vision that subtly and politely exceeds that of ordinary people . . . Ultimately the novel achieves a tragic synthesis between its various parts that . . . that reverberates powerfully in the mind.”
—Theo Tait, Sunday Times (London)
“What Ishiguro has delivered, after much labour, is 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. And take note, Peter Jackson. Ishiguro’s fiction makes wonderful films.”
—John Sutherland, The Times (London)
“Kazuo Ishiguro has written his riskiest novel yet. . . . The Buried Giant actually feels very modern—despite all its talk of ogres, warriors, and dragons. It reprises the same themes Ishiguro has dealt with his entire career: deeply flawed people grappling with dueling impulses and loyalties—to their ideals, identities, and nations. . . . These questions of identity and conflict lie at the heart of The Buried Giant, and they are gripping, tangled, and well worth the attention of so talented a novelist. . . . Lush and thrilling, rolling the gothic, fantastical, political, and philosophical into one. In its best moments, the fantasy elements blend with the exploration of memory, identity, and power to significant effect. The Buried Giant may feel very different from Ishiguro’s previous works, but the concerns that lie at its heart have preoccupied him his entire career.”
—Elaine Teng, The New Republic

“Ishiguro is a deft gut-renovator of genres, bringing fresh life and feeling to hollowed-out conventions. . . . It’s a bold departure: highly stylized, alternately stiff and swashbuckling. But the love story at its center shimmers with a mythic and melancholy grace.”
—Boris Kachka, Vulture

“A literary event . . . A story that’s both one couple’s on-the-road tale, and a mystery for a great civilization.”

“Ishiguro may be a master of his craft, but, more than that, he’s a master of quiet subversion. . . . What you see is rarely, if ever, what you get: the writer expects you to dig deeper for the truth.”
—Caroline Goldstein, Bustle
“Just as in Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro takes us into a disconcertingly different world without ever making that world the main focus of attention . . . The Buried Giant tells us that for nations, just as for individuals, there may be some memories so painful and damaging that they are dangerous to face, that some forgetfulness may be necessary . . . He has located this novel so dreamily far away. The storytelling is formal and subtly archaic, the dialogue elaborate and courteous, clearly paying homage to Malory and Le Morte d’Arthur. Yet it is a far more sophisticated narrative than it at first appears, progressively switching its point of view away from Axl with whom we began, to give us two ‘reveries of Gawain’, for example, and then, in a sorrowful final chapter, reaching into the heart of the pair’s own story, revealing their own failings, showing us Axl and Beatrice from the perspective of the failed boatman . . . The Buried Giant . . .  reveal itself as a work not just of great originality but peculiar, even hypnotic, beauty: such a late, great extension to Arthurian literature.”
—David Sexton, Evening Standard

“Axl and Beatrice’s adventures . . . grow in urgency yet never sacrifice the mood of quiet, elegiac pessimism that has always characterized Mr. Ishiguro’s writing—and that makes his novels strangely both melancholic and soothing. . . . For all its fantastical trappings, The Buried Giant is a simple and powerful tale of love, aging and loss—no radical departure for this splendid writer but another excellent novel all the same.”
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
 “A lyrical, allusive (and elusive) voyage into the mists of British folklore by renowned novelist Ishiguro. . . . The premise of a nation made up of amnesiac people longing for meaning is beguiling . . . Ishiguro is a master of subtlety; as with Never Let Me Go he allows a detail to slip out here, another there, until we are finally aware of the facts of the matter, horrible though they may be. . . . Lovely: a fairy tale for grown-ups, both partaking in and departing from a rich literary tradition.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“It’s a sad, elegiac story . . . A dreamy journey . . . Easy to read but difficult to forget.”
—Lydia Millet, Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Ishiguro was described as ‘a master craftsman’ by Margaret Atwood, and he is every inch that throughout this book, from the self-confidence and certainty of the slow start, through to the final, profound and very moving, pages’.
—Emily Hourican, Irish Independent
“Ishiguro’s story is a deceptively simple one, for enfolded within its elemental structure are many profound truths, including its beautiful and memorable portrait of a long-term marriage and its subtle commentary on the eternity of war, all conveyed in the author’s mesmerizing prose.”
—Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
“Tangled and satisfying . . . [Ishiguro’s] novels have for the last two decades frustrated expectations, and his decision to venture into the realm of legend this time is of a piece with the risks he’s been taking all along. . . . Ishiguro’s novels dramatize quests for self-knowledge, and though The Buried Giant  . . . may be his most exotic work . . . it may also be his most direct assault on the question.”
—Christian Lorentzen, Bookforum
“Part of the brilliance of this novel is that it can be read at face value and enjoyed . . . or it can be read deep, deeper, and deeper still, until the reader begins scrutinizing the words not on the pages as intensely as each description and every scrap of dialog.”
—Betty Scott, Books & Whatnot
“The world’s greatest living novelist, Kazuo Ishiguro, has a new book out. It is a masterpiece.”
—David Walliams
“A novelist of unparalleled distinction. The style is elegant, sparse, non-archaic and, as with Ishiguro’s other works, it accumulates as you progress, until you are mesmerised by the agony of his characters. It is a bold, sorrowful, brilliant and unyielding book. The journey might be imaginary, yet it is existentially real, and that is its great beauty and strength.”
—Joanna Kavenna, Prospect
“A new novel from Ishiguro, his first in 10 years, is quite possibly the literary event of 2015. . . . The Buried Giant is another thought-provoking literary masterpiece.”
—Alice O’Keeffe, The Bookseller

“This book is a love story, an adventure story, a mystery tale and an allegory. It’s also an unforgettable book about forgetting. . . . Once you have read this book you will want to read it again.”
—Erich Mayer, Publishing ArtsHub (Australia)

About the Author

KAZUO ISHIGURO's seven previous books have won him wide renown and numerous honors. His work has been translated into more than forty languages. Both The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go have sold more than one million copies, and both were adapted into highly acclaimed films.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
  • Hardcover : 317 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 030727103X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0307271037
  • Product Dimensions : 6.41 x 1.13 x 9.56 inches
  • Publisher : Knopf; 1st Edition (March 3, 2015)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.8 out of 5 stars 1,925 ratings

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5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing tale of love, identity, ethnicity and magic
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