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Likely Stories : Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro


I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan in 1954 and moved to Britain at the age of five.  His eight previous works of fiction have earned him many honors around the world, including the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Booker Prize.  Two of my favorite of his novels—The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go--have had acclaimed films.  I feel certain his latest novel, Klara and the Sun, will add to his oeuvre. 

Ishiguro begins this stirring look into an absorbing story of a family dealing with numerous events.  He writes, “When we were new, Rosa and I were mid-store, on the magazine table side, and could see through more than half of the window.  So, we were able to watch the outside—the office workers hurrying by, the taxis, the runners and the tourists, Beggar Man and his dog, the lower part of the RPO Building.  Once we were more settled, Manager allowed us to walk up to the front until we were right behind the window display, and then we could see how tall the RPO Building was.  And if we were there at just the right time, we would see the Sun on his journey, crossing between the building tops from outside over the RPO Building side. // When I was lucky enough to see him like that, I’d lean my face forward to take as much of his nourishment as I could, and if Rosa was with me, I’d tell her to do the same” (3).

Kazuo continues, “I wouldn’t have wanted anyone other than Rosa beside me in the window during those days, but our time there did not bring out our differences in our attitudes.  It wasn’t really that I was more eager to learn about the outside than Rosa: she was, in her own way, excited and observant, and as anxious as I was to prepare herself to be as kind and helpful an AF as possible.  (20).

Kazuo writes, “The rest of the morning remained busy.” [   ] So, it wasn’t until the afternoon, when there was finally a lull, that Manager came over to me. // ‘I was surprised at you this morning, Klara,’ she said. ‘You of all people.’ // ‘I’m sorry, Manager.’ // ‘What came over you?  It was so unlike you.’ // ‘I’m verry sorry, Manager.  I didn’t mean to cause embarrassment.  I just thought, for that particular child, I perhaps wouldn’t be the best choice’ [   ] ‘I’m very sorry, manager.’ // ‘I supported you this time.  But I won’t do it again’ // It’s for the customer to choose the AF, never the other way around.’ // ‘I understand, Manager.’  Then I said quietly: ‘Thank you, Manager, for what you did today.’” (33-34).

This story of youngsters struggling to overcome difficulties, shows differences of personalities and the ability to learn.  Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro is a story readers will not forget.  5 Stars.

Likely Stories is a production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and happy reading!

Life-long voracious reader, Jim McKeown, is an English Instructor at McLennan Community College. His "Likely Stories" book review can be heard every Thursday on KWBU-FM! Reviews include fiction, biographies, poetry and non-fiction. Join us for Likely Stories every Thursday featured during Morning Edition and All Things Considered with encore airings Saturday and Sunday during Weekend Edition.