2016 · Book Club · Book Reviews · Fantasy · Fiction · Grief · Historical · Travel

The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro

22522805Published: 2015 by Knopf | Pages: 317 | RAD Book Club Book #5

“You’ve long set your heart against it, Axl, I know. But it’s time now to think on it anew. There’s a journey we must go on, and no more delay…”

The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years.

Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in nearly a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war.

The Buried Giant roughly marked the half way point in our book club reads. I’d heard a lot about Kazuo Ishiguro, and vividly remember the hype surrounding this book. People seemed to go mad over social media in the lead up! I’ve never read anything by Ishiguro before, so was really excited to dive into this fantasy world (one which I don’t tend to inhabit often) and to fully understand why everyone loves this writer. The setting for the book is medieval/Dark ages Britain – perfect for me! I could just imagine the how different the landscape was, people’s attitudes and so on. This seemed like it was going to be a proper escape portal!

I really enjoyed the relationship between the two main characters; Axl and Beatrice. I loved how utterly devoted they initially seemed to be. This image definitely reminded me of my grandparents – especially when the two would bicker over silly things. I felt the significance of the candle really brought home the needs of the older generation, and possibly, that Ishiguro was commenting on how, as a society, we need to be more mindful towards the elderly.

I found aspects of the books difficult to follow on times. For example, as I’m not particularly knowledgable about myths, I failed to notice Ishiguro’s use of the boatman could be likened to a similar figure found in ancient myths who ferries the dying across a river, which separates the living from the dead.There were many eery metaphors throughout the novel, and sometimes I felt quite disturbed. One particular section which sticks in my mind involved the water nymphs attacking Axl and Beatrices’ baskets when they are travelling along the river. Axl definitely appears as the heroic figure.

The use of the mist throughout the novel was extremely clever. Ishiguro not only managed to make his character’s forget the recent and distant past, but book club also felt that the readers seemed to be overcome by a feeling of forgetfulness and confusion. It’s as if Ishiguro throws so much imagery onto a page, the reader ends up with all weird and wonderful images while forgetting the main drive behind the plot.

I found the use of dragons and Arthurian knights throughout the plot really exciting. The image of an old knight roaming the land protecting the very thing which is causing so much unease to a society is perfect for painting a picture of the dark-aged Britain. Ishiguro’s stylish flecks of imagery really captures the sense of another world and time.

I must admit, until I began discussing the book with my boss, I had totally ignored the significance of the title. ‘The Buried Giant’ – I just assumed the giant mound referred to mid-way through the book linked the title to the context. My boss on the other hand felt the title represented the forgetfulness of the societies throughout the book, and metaphorically the giants’ which we, ourselves bury dip in our subconscious.

This book definitely got me thinking about my ‘buried giants’, and helped me to interact with them and come to terms with them. A very interesting read, and a strong 4 stars from me!

If you fancy seeing RAD Book Club’s thoughts, click here!

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