Thursday, December 07, 2006

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I reread this for my book group (did I mention I’m doing scads of rereading?) and it was just as chilling and effective as the first time. This book is so subtle and unsettling. Again, what struck me about it was how it intimately details the horrors of dehumanization, of what has been and will be the experience of too many. While it uses cloning as its backdrop, it applies to so many other scenarios—and plumbs so many other issues, too. Like how self-hatred is taught, little by little—how deception is inculcated, too, and accepted wholesale once we’ve been conditioned to it (the Iraq War, anyone?). But the power of this little novel is that it’s not an ‘issues’ novel. Ishiguro provides a clear picture of what’s important and what’s at stake in any issue—people and human relationships.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head with this one when you mention conditioning. Several people who read it found the fact that no one fought the system the main drawback. How easy it is to say what "we" would do when the point is how different our lives would be if subjected to this kind of conditioning from birth.

The book made me very uncomfortable, and I am unable to shake that sense of miasma when I think about it.

As you mention cloning per se is not the issue, but what we become capable of doing and where we go from there is -- and this novel makes you think.

mishareads said...

Jenclair,
This is so true. The very fact that all of these kids and then adults accept their fate--that they are conditioned and resigned from a very young age--is one of the most disturbing aspects of the book. One of my book group members said that it was a perfect illustration of racism and how self-hatred plays a role in that--how dehumanization becomes internalized. That Ishiguro decided to make this novel so personal, so subjective, is its power, I think.