The Buried Giant

Like a lot of folks, I fell under the spell of Kazuo Ishiguro with The Remains of the Day. As any number of folks can attest, I subIshiguro giantsequently inflicted it on a couple of generations of students, who mostly enjoyed it, too. His latest, The Buried Giant, is nothing like it. Except that as always, by the second page I was thinking, “This guy can really write.” Ishiguro has travelled into the 1950s, the dystopian near-future, even the world of music in Nocturnes, his collection of stories “about music and nightfall.” This time he goes into the way-back machine, setting the story in England just after the Arthurian period. In fact, Sir Gawain (yes, the Green Knight one) is one of the traveling companions of the elderly couple Beatrice and Axl. There is also a Saxon warrior and an orphan with a dragon bite. It’s that kind of place: dragons, ogres, pixies (nasty little blighters), plagues, mists of forgetfulness. It’s a little surprising and entirely wonderful to read a novel of medieval life that lies outside the bounds of conventional sword-and-sorcery genres. As we follow this elderly couple on a journey to the west–even knowing where such quests must end–we find ourselves delighted, dismayed, surprised and amazed. Ishiguro is always worth reading. In this tale of failed and recovered memory, tribalism, love, guilt, secrets, and betrayal, he proves that an apparent fable can be so much more than it seems.