Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Title: The Buried Giant
Narrator: David Horovitch
Publication Info: Random House Audio (2015)
Previously read by the same author: A Pale View of Hills, An Artist of the Floating World, and The Remains of the Day
I went through a phase in the 1990s when I read every Kazuo Ishiguro book up to that point. Since then, I’ve completely failed to read any of his new books as they were released. I decide to make up for that by reading his most recent novel. While his earlier works are set in the 20th century and have first-person narrators reflecting on their interior lives, and the melancholy of everyday life, this novel is quite different. The Buried Giant is set in England at a time after the Saxon invasion when the Britons and Saxons are living side-by-side in an uneasy peace. The novel focuses on an elderly Briton couple, Axl and Beatrice, who have low social status in their community and are suffering from a forgetfulness that’s plaguing the land. They decide to visit a son that they vaguely recall living in another community, and as they set off on their journey, the seemingly historical fiction begins to take on elements of fantasy. King Arthur lived and reigned in recent memory and the meet his aged nephew Sir Gawain as well as a Saxon warrior Wistan, and a boy named Edwin who is feared to have been bitten by an ogre. Others encountered on their journey are a mysterious ferryman, duplicitous monks, and the she-dragon Querig who is responsible for the mist that is causing the forgetfulness. As memories returns, the characters begin to question if they want to remember as forgetting has helped them heal and put aside guilt. It’s a deeply meditative and atmospheric book that works as a fantasy story and a highly symbolic parable.