Longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2021. Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly-changing world through the eyes of a unique narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?
From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.
‘I was drawn to a narrator with peculiar limitations of vision, as well as outstanding abilities to observe and learn quickly about the human world. An extreme outsider at the same time child-like and sophisticated. Through her eyes it would feel natural to ask big questions like: What’s special about humans? Are humans fundamentally lonely? What do humans mean when they say they love one another?
‘I didn’t do much research specifically for the novel. I’d been interested for some time both in Artificial Intelligence and in genetic technologies – and in how we should accommodate the opportunities and dangers that will come from such profound developments that are now just around the corner. In recent years, I’d been lucky enough to get to know, and have fascinating conversations with, some of the most knowledgeable people in these fields.’
Read the full interview on Waterstones.
What’s beyond doubt is that Ishiguro has written another masterpiece, a work that makes us feel afresh the beauty and fragility of our humanity
Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic
‘It aspires to enchantment, or to put it another way, reenchantment, the restoration of magic to a disenchanted world. Ishiguro drapes realism like a thin cloth over a primordial cosmos. Every so often, the cloth slips, revealing the old gods, the terrible beasts, the warring forces of light and darkness.’
James Wood, The New Yorker
‘A prayer is a postcard asking for a favor, sent upward. Whether our postcards are read by anyone has become the searching doubt of Ishiguro’s recent novels, in which this master, so utterly unlike his peers, goes about creating his ordinary, strange, godless allegories.’
Maureen Corrigan, NPR
‘But great artists, like Ishiguro, are distinguished by their more expansive vision. I know that’s something of an old-fashioned conceit, as is the word, “masterpiece”; nevertheless, I’ll go for broke and call Klara and the Sun a masterpiece that will make you think about life, mortality, the saving grace of love: in short, the all of it.’
Anne Enright, The Guardian
‘There is something so steady and beautiful about the way Klara is always approaching connection, like a Zeno’s arrow of the heart. People will absolutely love this book, in part because it enacts the way we learn how to love. Klara and the Sun is wise like a child who decides, just for a little while, to love their doll. “What can children know about genuine love?” Klara asks. The answer, of course, is everything.’
Charles Finch, The Los Angeles Times
‘Klara and the Sun is a distinctly “mature” novel – as assured as ever, but slapdash in places compared to the author’s meticulous earlier work. And he’s never been strong with dialogue (his books are so profoundly interior). But these minor criticisms glance off Ishiguro’s work like bullets off the hull of a battleship. Few writers who’ve ever lived have been able to create moods of transience, loss and existential self-doubt as Ishiguro has – not art about the feelings, but the feelings themselves.’
Sura Siu brings the audiobook of Klara and the Sun to life.
Kazuo Ishiguro discussed Klara and the Sun with novelist Kate Mosse in a special event presented by The Reading Agency and the British Library. The event marked the 10th anniversary of World Book Night, The Reading Agency’s national celebration of books and reading.
Ishiguro talked to Mosse about the inspiration for the novel, and the power of books and reading to bring people together and change lives.