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Book Recommendation: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Mahjabin Meem


Some books make you shed a tear or two, some books make you sob like a child, and then there are books like Never Let Me Go. This book will shatter your heart into so many pieces that you won’t even bother picking them up.

Never Let Me Go is considered a Nobel prize winner — Kazuo Ishiguro’s best work till date, and rightly so.

“Kathy, a 31-year-old, recalls her days of living at Hailsham, an English private school where the students were brought up to believe that they were special. They lived in complete isolation and they were comforted by it. Kathy reminiscences those happy days she spent with her best friend Ruth and Tommy. But as her broken friendship with Ruth rekindles in the present, they are forced to acknowledge the dark truth behind Hailsham and their current lives.”

Kazuo Ishiguro weaves a plot with such emotional depth and fragile relationships, it’ll take your breath away. The characters are complex and masterfully crafted. Their relationships feel so very real. Ruth might seem like a terrible person at first glance, but slowly and begrudgingly you start to sympathise with her as a person. The dynamic between Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy is fascinating.

The writing in this book is so deceptively simple. Kazuo Ishiguro does magic with his words, like gently unfurling an old sketch of your past lover, like flipping through a musty, sepia photograph of your old friends laughing together. I felt like I was looking into a glorious, oblivious past through a time-turning lens. It was so heart-achingly beautiful. All the while I was reading the book, I kept wondering what was actually happening, trying to piece together through the flickers of understanding, but never got any closer. When the truth was finally revealed, it tore me apart. The tone throughout the book is consistent; melancholic, nostalgic, and yet, so awe-inspiring.

Kazuo Ishiguro explores such a complex issue with a very simple story narrated by a simple woman. The detachment with which our protagonist Kathy narrated the story worked so well for this book, in my opinion. You can see how she’s trying to mentally detach herself from all these things that are happening to them and trying to accept them as her fate, but of course it doesn’t work. It never works. 

The questions raised through this book are essential to our understanding of humanity. This story in itself is completely unique, yet it opens the door to a thousand historic moments when we had to confront similarly ugly truths. It toys with the idea of self-preservation and the length we’re willing to go for it. It has been proven time and again that humanity’s selfishness knows no bounds; Kazuo Ishiguro just painted the same picture in a brand new way.

I don’t want to give too much away, as this is a book that thrives on its power of revelation. I see some people classifying this as sci-fi but that is the worst way you could describe this. This is literary fiction at its finest.

If you want to be submerged into a story of friendship, love, the horribly selfish nature of human lives, and acceptance that’ll resonate with you forever, there isn’t a better book out there. Highly, highly recommended. 

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