Klara’s detachment from the human world combined with her unusual empathy suit Ishiguro’s narrative purposes perfectly. In particular he uses Klara’s artificial sight to indicate to the reader how differently she perceives the world ... For Ishiguro this makes Klara the ideal narrator. Unsure with her restricted perception of what anything truly means, she is forced to sift through the data she receives to make (narrative) sense of it. Her naivety and her capacity to empathize with the feelings of others makes her a typically Ishiguran figure – puzzled, slightly distanced and yet sympathetic. Strangely we come to realize that the non-human Klara is more human than the humans, none of whom can be fully trusted, not even Josie.
Klara and the Sun confirms one’s suspicion that the contemporary novel’s truest inheritor of Nabokovian estrangement—not to mention its best and deepest Martian—is Ishiguro ... Never Let Me Go wrung a profound parable out of such questions: the embodied suggestion of that novel is that a free, long, human life is, in the end, just an unfree, short, cloned life. Klara and the Sun continues this meditation, powerfully and affectingly. Ishiguro uses his inhuman, all too human narrators to gaze upon the theological heft of our lives, and to call its bluff ... Ishiguro keeps his eye on the human connection. Only Ishiguro, I think, would insist on grounding this speculative narrative so deeply in the ordinary ... 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.
... moving and beautiful ... an unequivocal return to form, a meditation in the subtlest shades on the subject of whether our species will be able to live with everything it has created ... Ishiguro’s best books are hard to summarize with any justice past the first hundred pages because, like a handful of other great writers — Louise Erdrich, Dostoevsky — he is almost incidentally one of the best pure mystery novelists around. With just a few words he creates ambiguities that make most of his books feverish reads, one-sitters ... 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.
... takes place in the uncomfortably near future, and banal language is redeployed with sinister portent ... For four decades now, Ishiguro has written eloquently about the balancing act of remembering without succumbing irrevocably to the past. Memory and the accounting of memory, its burdens and its reconciliation, have been his subjects. With Klara and the Sun, I began to see how he has mastered the adjacent theme of obsolescence ... Klara is likable enough — as she was manufactured to be — but it’s hard to empathize with her on the page, which is maybe the point. The stilted affect that so often characterizes Ishiguro’s prose and dialogue — an incantatory flatness that belies its revelatory ability — serves its literal function ... complements [Ishiguro's] brilliant vision, though it doesn’t reach the artistic heights of his past achievements.
Most of Ishiguro’s novels are slender books that are more complicated than they at first seem; Klara and the Sun is by contrast more simple than it seems, less novel than parable. Though much is familiar here—the restrained language, the under-stated first-person narration—the new book is much more overt than its predecessors about its concerns ... Klara inspires the humans in the book to muse about whether science can transcend death. Her owner grapples with the ramifications of choosing to have her own children genetically modified in order to enhance their potential. That this novel serves up these bigger questions so explicitly feels at first like a miscalculation, or a flaw in the narrative design, which locks us in Klara’s perspective. But I don’t think Klara aims to wrestle with these questions at all. Klara is a machine, but she’s also a contrivance, the perfect metaphor for parenthood ... Klara’s cool remove from human emotion isn’t a shortcoming but a function of her being a machine. We pity Stevens but can never quite muster the same for Klara. Her lack of interiority will prevent some readers from engaging with the book; those who want a novel that makes them feel will be stymied by emotion’s absence. Accustomed to negotiating with Ishiguro’s narrators, I kept trying to see past Klara and into the world of the book. But the narrative gives Klara no reason to provide the exposition we want: what year it is, what nation we are in (there are clues that it’s the United States, new territory for an Ishiguro novel), the specifics that clarify this invented world to be a version of our own—the very promise of science fiction.
It explores many of the subjects that fill our news feeds, from artificial intelligence to meritocracy. Yet its real political power lies not in these topical references but in its quietly eviscerating treatment of love. Through Klara, Josie, and Chrissie, Ishiguro shows how care is often intertwined with exploitation, how love is often grounded in selfishness ... this book focuses on those we exploit primarily for emotional labor and care work—a timely commentary during a pandemic in which the essential workers who care for us are too often treated as disposable ... If Never Let Me Go demonstrates how easily we can exploit those we never have to see, Klara and the Sun shows how easily we can exploit even those we claim to love ... a story as much about our own world as about any imagined future, and it reminds us that violence and dehumanization can also come wrapped in the guise of love.
It’s all very mysterious, this superstructure of society just beyond the reader’s eyeline. It does becomes clear, but this slow tease is essential to Ishiguro’s vision, which is radical among contemporary novelists. Imagine being teleported to another country, another time; you’d need to figure out how society works from people’s everyday conversations. That’s where Ishiguro places the reader. So in Klara and the Sun, there are no handy paragraphs where the narrator conveniently reflects on everything we need to know about a character we’ve just met ... This almost demented purity is rare ... Writing like this makes things harder for the reader, but that extra work means Ishiguro’s worlds stay deeply implanted in the mind, and as a result Klara and the Sun feels like a new definitive myth about the world we’re about to face. What that myth addresses is inequality, human potential, the need to be needed, even — I told you he was ambitious — whether human life is really unique, or if we should stop 'believing there’s something unreachable inside us' ... I scoured the book for bum notes and found only one, where Klara and Josie’s father cook up a solution to a problem which is too neat and feels like it benefits the author, not the story; for once we can feel Ishiguro’s thumb on the scale. Elsewhere, the subtlety of his approach means that he can deliver an emotional payload in a few words ... It’s also surprisingly spry, with some hectic plot turns and a quest Klara sets for herself which seems ridiculous to the reader until suddenly it doesn’t. This is a novel for fans of Never Let Me Go, with which it shares a DNA of emotional openness, the quality of letting us see ourselves from the outside, and a vision of humanity which — while not exactly optimistic — is tender, touching and true.
Ishiguro shows us the world as Klara’s artificial intelligence perceives it. When she encounters unprecedented input—a grassy meadow, a crowd of theatergoers on a sidewalk—her field of vision is partitioned into 'boxes' for processing by the software whose operations seem undetectable to her ... Sometimes Klara’s perceptions delight (I laughed when she passingly referred to an 'anti-parking sign'), but often she’s not curious about the things that most intrigue the reader. She doesn’t ask what ails Josie, even as the girl’s condition worsens and it becomes clear her life is in danger ... It’s not a mistake to view Ishiguro’s novels as works of social criticism, but to approach them that way won’t get you to the heart of the thing. The strange and beautiful poignancy of Klara and the Sun has less to do with its commentary on the transformative role of technology in contemporary life than with the flowering of such transcendental thoughts in a mind like a walled garden, unwitnessed by anyone around her ... She is Ishiguro’s most fulfilled character yet, and that may be the most inhuman thing about her.
The language here will be familiar to anyone who has read Ishiguro: simple, descriptive, conversational to the point of banality. Like a modern version of Plato’s allegory of the cave, Klara and her fellow AF Rosa first come to know the world through the sharp limits of their storefront window frame ... Yet for all these science-fictional trappings, Klara feels strangely realistic in its everyday descriptions. It presents a world of rural imagery, drenched with an uncanny lack of action, filled with anxious adults, listless children, and friendly robots ... There’s an initial learning curve to reading Klara and the Sun, as Klara herself struggles in adapting to the brave new world of humans ... it ends the way that all Ishiguro novels do: with its protagonist dreaming of a sunnier past ... Like all his novels, Klara is ultimately a story about the art of losing.
Like Never Let Me Go, Ishiguro’s discomfiting 2005 dystopian novel about clones raised to be organ donors, his latest involves science taken to sinister, ethically questionable levels. But it is also a surprisingly warm morality tale about love, heart, hope, empathy, and the idea that 'there are all kinds of ways to lead a successful life' ... Without giving away too much, I can say that the novel’s principal – and far creepier – ethical issue involves genetic manipulations that confer special social and educational advantages, which leads to an unfair, stratified society. These 'edits' can also carry grave health risks ... Ishiguro’s intrinsically honest narrator is limited, but she has depth. This is a character whose vision goes wonky and fractures into tiny boxes when she is overwhelmed by what she sees, yet who never stops trying to synthesize the pieces ... a pleasant subversion of what we expect from a dystopian story about the dangers of technology taken too far.
Klara and the Sun is set in a near-future, someplace in America. As in other Ishiguro novels, the horror of this world dawns gradually, through a bland vocabulary of menace ... One of the joys of Ishiguro's novels is the way they recall and reframe each other, almost like the same stories told in different formats. Klara's voice, gently puzzled, resembles the butler's in The Remains of the Day as he tries to determine how to relate to his new American employer, who seems to expect him to make jokes ... Again and again, Ishiguro asks: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to have a self? And how much of that self can and should we give to others? ... gentle, lovely, and mournful.
Readers still reeling from his 2005 novel Never Let Me Go will find here a gentler exploration of the price children pay for modern advancements ... There’s a Jamesian quality to the searching, deliberate portrayal of life in Josie’s remote house. Like Klara, Ishiguro attends closely to the way apparently innocuous conversations shift, the way joy drains from a frozen smile. This is a home recovering from grief and bracing for more ... Beyond the dark enchantment of this peaceful house, Ishiguro suggests a world radically transformed. Another author would have been eager to elaborate on the dystopian features of the not-too-distant era, but Ishiguro always implies, never details. One reads Ishiguro in a defensive crouch, afraid to have our worst suspicions confirmed ... That’s the real power of this novel: Ishiguro’s ability to embrace a whole web of moral concerns about how we navigate technological advancements, environmental degradation and economic challenges even while dealing with the unalterable fact that we still die ... Ishiguro has perfectly calibrated Klara’s uncanny tone, with a personality just warm enough and alien enough to feel like the Artificial Friend we all need ... Ishiguro brings to this poignant subgenre a uniquely elegant style and flawless control of dramatic pacing.
The nonhuman Klara is more human than most humans. She has, you might say, a superhuman humanity. She’s also Ishiguro’s most luminous character, literally a creature of light, dependent on the Sun ... To be clear, Klara is no shrinking mermaid. Her voice is very much her own. It may strike the ear as childlike, but she speaks in prose poetry ... Klara’s descriptive passages have a strange and lovely geometry ... Critics often note Ishiguro’s use of dramatic irony, which allows readers to know more than his characters do. And it can seem as if his narrators fail to grasp the enormity of the injustices whose details they so meticulously describe. But I don’t believe that his characters suffer from limited consciousness. I think they have dignity ... Among the many pleasures of Klara and the Sun is the savagery of its satire of the modern meritocracy ... Oddly enough, given its subject matter, Klara and the Sun doesn’t induce the shuddery, uncanny-valley sensation that makes Never Let Me Go such a satisfying horror story ... Klara and the Sun doesn’t strive for uncanniness. 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 ... Ishiguro leaves us suspended over a rift in the presumptive order of things. Whose consciousness is limited, ours or a machine’s? Whose love is more true?
... this is a slowly paced novel ... Ishiguro's literary feat...is the pervasive irony of Klara's sincere, unironic point of view. Even from her periphery, we still glimpse a society of pervasive personal loneness coupled with and caused by sinister, systemic. political and economic portents ... Despite its forays into science fiction...Klara and the Sun feels like a fairy tale ... Klara moves from alienating to relatable. Such is the novel's achievement, and its heartbreak.
The dissonance between Klara’s understanding and our own serves as a masterclass on literary defamiliarization ... It might be possible to identify [dystopian] worries—especially the great inequalities born from these savage meritocracies—as the primary concerns of this novel. Yet, Klara and the Sun is no polemic, no cane-shaking diatribe about these upstart whippersnappers and their fancy new technologies. The novel isn’t reducible to one simple allegorical message any more than is the wind ... What makes Klara and the Sun in particular so remarkable, I think, is that instead of only looking backward at our origin stories, Ishiguro here is looking forward in time as if to warn us that the myths we insist upon believing today will shape how we will live in the future. He reminds us that even our most enduring stories can be rewritten.
Klara observes Josie’s complicated world with a child’s simplicity and moral clarity, making sense of it as she can through her limited perspective. (Don’t we all?) The constrained narrative vantage point can read precious at times ... But her stilted limitations also create a delectable puzzle box of the setting ... The dystopian details are the makings of high sci-fi but are approached elliptically ... Klara and the Sun is The Velveteen Rabbit by way of Steven Spielberg’s A.I. absent sentimentality. No honest observer of humanity will be much surprised by the endpoint of Klara’s journey, though the emotional gut-punch might still come as a shock.
It’s not as sinisterly dystopic (yet) as, say, the future-city in Diane Cook’s The New Wilderness (2019)...it’s just that Ishiguro keeps this content in the background. He may have built a world but he does not explicate. It’s coherent and strangely almost familiar. The book has a straightforward structure, six parts, and a compelling narrative arc ... easy to read—that’s a compliment. It will stay with you. I am still unpeeling the layers. Ishiguro’s prose is not ostentatious. What you consistently get is that voice, a submissive affect; and rewarding philosophical explorations. Klara and the Sun is of intelligent design, as much about what makes us unique as it is AI. Read it and be nourished.
In his dystopian novel, Klara and the Sun, a sorrowful but elegant exploration of the human heart and his first novel since winning the Nobel Prize, Kazuo Ishiguro makes use of a bomb under the table. The novel cannily uses delay and withheld information to ratchet up our worry, taking time to disclose the source of the menace. We know something horrifying is going to be uncovered, but we don’t know when. From the start, a reader is fully immersed in the first-person perspective of a robot, an Artificial Friend, Klara. Ishiguro is not so much a stylist as he is supremely gifted at constructing dramatic events, both reveals and turns. The voice is so nonintrusive, so endearing in its transparency and simplicity, it works without interference. I glided along. However, the simplicity and transparency of the prose is deceptive — what happens in the novel is psychologically deep, an attempt to dive all the way down to the Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench ... Klara and the Sun [...] is elegant and haunting and taut. It is best read as a keen, suspenseful inquiry into the uniqueness of the human heart.
... a novel about class, about the wealthy using technology to ensure their progeny survive the coming slow apocalypse. What emerges, though, is a powerful narrative of two mothers and the lengths they go to for the sake of their children ... I was less in love with Ishiguro’s take on artificial intelligence. It’s not bad by any stretch. I did like Klara’s deification of the Sun, including her promise to slay the Cootings machine if the Sun intervened to save Josie’s life. But Klara’s observation of human interaction, especially the intimate bond between Josie and Rick, isn’t something we haven’t seen many, many times before in genre fiction and popular media. I also found Ishiguro’s exploration of consciousness and whether it can be replicated to be half-hearted and unsatisfying. But it’s Klara and the Sun‘s ending that I found most disappointing. I won’t provide details, but given the bleak nature of Ishiguro’s world, it’s overly sentimental and cloying. It’s a climax that almost, but not entirely, undermines the book’s most powerful and visceral moments, of two mothers going to great lengths to save their children from an uncertain future.
Klara’s story is uniquely moving, its questions more expansive. Though perhaps not as gracefully rendered as Never Let Me Go, Klara is a stunning book in its own right and a vital addition to today’s proliferating sub-genre of climate change novels ... far more concerned with the complications of love and power than it is with crafting a cautionary tale. Readers of Ishiguro’s other novels will be familiar with his lack of easy answers as well as his heart-breaking exploration of what it means to care for others and the impossible contradictions inherent to that care ... Despite its characteristically deft prose, Klara is perhaps too close to home to be lauded as an epiphany of a novel like Ishiguro’s past works. It is quiet, understated, and slow ... Even when it treads the same water as past works (Ishiguro’s as well as SF more broadly) Klara and the sun feels vital—like noticing the sun rise one morning despite living through countless sunrises past.
He is the master of slowly deepening our awareness of human failing, fragility and the inevitability of death — all that, even as he deepens our awareness of what temporary magic it is to be alive in the first place ... Klara and the Sun is yet another return pilgrimage and it's one of the most affecting and profound novels Ishiguro has written ... 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.
A fable-like work of speculative fiction, Klara and the Sun asks to be read as a companion to Never Let Me Go ... It is both logical and a touch self-parodic for a novelist whose characters often resemble automata to write an entire book in the voice of a machine imitating human speech patterns ... Instead of a decisively postapocalyptic future, Ishiguro has sketched the contours of one we can imagine ourselves drifting into not too many years from now ... The dystopia of Klara and the Sun, like the one in Never Let Me Go, seems to have defaulted to whiteness. The occasional appearance of a 'black-skinned' person is unusual enough for Klara to find it worth noting; the only presumably nonwhite presence of note is the family housekeeper, who speaks in conspicuously broken English. Matched by the monotony of Klara’s telling, the drab homogeneity of this world becomes part of its banal horror ... It is hard not to wonder why a state-of-the-art piece of machine intelligence would bear an understanding of heavenly bodies that seems to date from some ancient civilization. Perhaps the point is that robots, if they are hard-wired to imitate humans, will also succumb to magical thinking ... In Never Let Me Go the persistent understatement of the narration is crucial to the book’s power—a slow-dawning horror seeps between the lines and lingers well beyond its conclusion. But Klara and the Sun lacks any equivalent tension: its setting proves to be a generic dystopia, and Klara, even for this master of withholding, may be too blank a slate, incapable of evasion or repression ... The shadows are where meaning typically resides for Ishiguro, and in this book, they are simply too well illuminated.
This attentiveness to detail, to the subtle rhythms of living, is what lends an elusive clarity to the lives of his characters and the societies they inhabit ... Even though Ishiguro’s narrators often dissolve into their surroundings to facilitate a 'fly on the wall' type of storytelling, the power of his writing lies in the moments where it is suddenly clear to the reader that the narration is not omniscient, and rather, filtered through a very particular perspective ... Ishiguro’s newest work of speculative fiction joins recent shows like Westworld and novels like Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me and Ted Chiang’s novella The Lifecycle of Software Objects, which depict societies where ethics have not evolved to accommodate advancements in artificial intelligence ... The strength of Ishiguro’s fiction isn’t necessarily the questions his novels raise, but the way his characters relate to one another as members of their time and place. Klara deftly illustrates the existential distress of a postindustrial world, the malaise of an existence mediated by technology, but also all of the most basic aspects of being human that remain unharmed in such a setting.
[A] spare and tender exploration of what it means to be made redundant, to exist in a world that believes itself to have moved past a need for you ... Klara and the Sun is not, however, likely to make Never Let Me Go redundant. It’s a technically lovely novel, with Klara’s forebodings expressing themselves less as fear than as a subdued melancholy that sweeps underneath the surface of the narrative in gentle waves. But this book lacks the deep wells of feeling that lurked in Never Let Me Go ... This sweet-natured novel is, like its narrator, just a little too cool and mechanical to inspire such emotional outpouring ... There are not so many good books in the world that a new Ishiguro will ever be obsolete.
All of this is familiar sci-fi fare, but it’s deftly done, and you never feel you’re being beaten over the head with exposition. As with Never Let Me Go, the genre elements of Klara and the Sun feel almost incidental to its core. This is a book about the big questions of existence: what is a person? What role does creativity play in everyday lives? How should we respond to the unfairness of the world? ... The fact that these questions come to feel worth taking seriously, rather than banal, or irresolvable, is due to Ishiguro’s innate unshowiness ... You could call this naivete, but really it’s innocence, and it is innocence that forms Ishiguro’s major subject, explored in novels at once familiar and strange, which only gradually display their true and devastating significance.
The first 200 pages of Klara and the Sun can try the reader’s patience. Apart from an undeveloped plotline about human gene editing, there isn’t much intrinsic drama ... But the last 100 pages mostly redeem the novel. As with Ishiguro’s other books, it works on you without you quite realising ... even when Ishiguro is operating on autopilot, he is far ahead of his imitators.
Ishiguro is an expert at slowly doling out information to build tension. The wonder of this book is that he incorporates many elements, from environmental damage to genetic testing, without the story seeming heavy-handed ... brilliant.
It’s a dazzling and deeply moving journey ... It underscores how well he deserved [the Nobel] prize, in its beautiful craft and prose and in its tender but unflinching sense of the human heart ... The quietly stunning finale of Klara’s story made me feel a little like one of the first famous AFs, the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, when he said, 'Now I know I have a heart, because it’s breaking.'
... a welcome return to form ... makes abundantly clear the extent to which Ishiguro values kindness and empathy over imagination and intelligence ... Paul and Klara’s discussions about whether there is such a thing as 'the human heart' – 'something that makes each of us special and unique' – make the novel’s larger philosophical concerns explicit. These concerns are at their most compelling, however, in Klara’s own narration, which blends comic interpretations of human behaviour with displays of extraordinary sensitivity and emotional intelligence, especially in the melancholic final pages, which show Ishiguro’s characteristic command of poignant understatement at its very best ... gathers up ingredients from Ishiguro’s most successful novels: the deft dramatisation of the thoughts and feelings of a narrator who knows more than they are able to acknowledge in The Remains of the Day; the devastating acquiescence to one’s own exploitation that animates Never Let Me Go; and even, in Klara’s struggles to comprehend the world around her, the evocation of profound disorientation found in Ishiguro’s most challenging work, The Unconsoled (which is less read and celebrated than it deserves) ... The result is a novel that is as unlikely to persuade the unconvinced as it is certain to satisfy Ishiguro’s devoted fans.
... another uncertain meeting between the horrifying and the heartwarming ... Only the restraint of the prose guards the scenes that elaborate her ingenuous belief system against becoming altogether cloying ... The dystopian side of things is familiar in the novel today. What is surprising, and even uncomfortable, about Klara and the Sun is how much Mr. Ishiguro wants to emphasize and honor the persistence of kindness amid it all. The story focuses on Josie’s battle with her illness and the friends and family who, with Klara, rally around her. As though overcorrecting after the dark response to Never Let Me Go, Mr. Ishiguro closes with a Hallmark-movie deus ex machina and a load of sentimental pabulum about 'real and everlasting' love ... Is this a work of dogged hopefulness or subversive nihilism? Is Klara a paragon of fidelity or a tool of suppression? Are we meant to admire her or be disturbed by her uncanny reproduction of admirable behavior? Maybe the only thing we can take away for sure from this crafty and troubling book is the realization that the dichotomy between these either/or readings must be a false one. Nobody can be just one thing, either an optimist or a pessimist. The complexity of experience all but guarantees that everyone will be involved in goodness and evil simultaneously. That is the foundational paradox that, in Mr. Ishiguro’s work, ceases to be paradoxical and becomes simply defining—both of humankind and of the strange creations it models in its image.
Klara and the Sun asks readers to love a robot and, the funny thing is, we do. This is a novel not just about a machine but narrated by a machine ... The credulity of the reader is a hopeful and sometimes beautiful thing. Klara and the Sun captures this poignancy exactly – not because of the way people believe in Klara, but because of the way she starts to believe in the sun ... the emotional punch of Klara, as with Never Let Me Go, comes from the fact that the central character doesn’t know what is going on ... the reader must learn to wait too, as with steady craft, Ishiguro leaves one hint after another. What is wrong with the world outside Klara’s store window? Why are the children she sees so thin? Why does the beggar man seem dead (along with his dog) and then alive again? What will happen when humans realise that the new upgraded series of AFs are capable of deceitfulness? The book rustles with possibility ... The novel requires the reader to ask and settle, over and again, while the philosophical content quietly takes hold. Klara and the Sun is a book about what it is to be human. The fact that Ishiguro can make such huge concerns seem so essential and so simple is just one of the reasons he was awarded the Nobel prize ... Ishiguro is at his most moving when he writes about the meek. It is almost concerning how ready the female characters in the book are to be sacrificed to some greater aim, to suffer or be punished ... Klara’s naivety is the engine of the book and its great strength ... 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.
It’s the combination of sincerity and strangeness that creates such a fertile territory for his stories. He likes to experiment with genre, and Klara and the Sun uses elements of both fable and dystopia to turn some familiar ideas on their heads ... What Klara and the other characters understand about the world overlaps and intersects in strange ways ... Tantalising developments happen at the edges of Klara’s experience. We’re privy to some of it—conversations about Atlas Brookings or Josie’s health—as well as, in one extraordinary aside, the revelation that Rick has been developing a flock of drones disguised as birds. We keep willing Ishiguro to train his focus on this view and he keeps turning us away from it ... Having very much enjoyed the first two thirds of Klara and the Sun, I was disappointed by an ending that veered too close to Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince—but perhaps disappointment was always part of the author’s plan.
The questions are as compelling as they have always been, but occasionally this fabulistic framing becomes a crutch, as Ishiguro’s hand at times weighs a bit too heavy on the scale ... Klara’s perspective is critical for the novel, but this lens often feels like a weakness. Many scenes in the book involve Klara describing something she’s seen or heard, and then immediately musing about the events to other characters. While this is standard-fare for the modern novel, Klara often goes even further, detecting and relaying the emotions of the characters as they happen ... often I found the effect to be a bit heavy-handed, as Klara’s narration inherently leans heavily to the 'tell' side of show and tell ... I wonder what the novel would be like if Rosa were to narrate it, perhaps allowing just a little more space for a reader to bring their own ideas into it ... While Ishiguro has no qualms about being extremely forthcoming about the emotions characters are experiencing, he has managed to build a sense of intrigue under the surface ... . These mysteries are deeply compelling, and they keep the pages turning. It’s unfortunate Ishiguro doesn’t keep the rest of his cards as close to his vest here, as the effect is powerful ... There’s a lot at play in Klara and the Sun, and like many of Ishiguro’s novels, I find it’s taken up an outsized position in my mind in the days since I’ve finished it. When the book manages to get out of it’s own way, the effect is stark, like layers of papers with patterns cut into them, forming a collage. The book opens up when given the space to breathe. But this makes it all the more frustrating in the doors Ishiguro closes, in the stilted dialogue between characters, in the unsurprising plot. Here, Ishiguro seems to be acting on his theory of storytelling more than ever before, which he described in his Nobel Lecture, saying, 'This is the way it feels to me. Can you understand what I’m saying? Does it also feel this way to you?' I just wish at times the question wasn’t so direct.
Ishiguro creates a fascinating world through Klara’s eyes as she works to understand how humans operate, while at the same time working through a growing number of feelings of her own. Throughout the book, Klara is more or less treated as a person and sometimes, you may even forget that she isn’t one ... Ishiguro’s prose is soft and quiet. It feels like the perfect book to curl up with on a Sunday afternoon. He allows the story to unfold slowly and organically, revealing enough on every page to continue piquing the reader’s curiosity. The novel is an intriguing take on how artificial intelligence might play a role in our futures. It is also a poignant meditation on love and loneliness, and asks us to ponder whether someone like Klara can ever truly embody the human spirit, or if the soul is something that can never be manufactured.
...not everything becomes clear, and for the reader – even more than for the narrator – there are areas of obscurity that seem impossible to penetrate. Ishiguro has made a striking effort to inhabit a non-human consciousness, and the way Klara perceives the world is in various respects entirely alien ... The effect is of a double estrangement – a strange perspective on a strange world – and it is often hard to build an even remotely clear mental picture of what’s supposed to be happening. It doesn’t help that Klara’s observations are delivered with Ishiguro’s usual aversion to precise physical detail ... The novel touches on themes to do with the ethics of AI, the problems of social inequality and the contradictions of parental love, but Ishiguro is much less a novelist of ideas than he is a virtuoso of mood music, and the prevailing tone is one of tenderness and gentle optimism ... Klara and the Sun is a pretty strange piece of work. In its mixture of high-concept sci-fi premiss and intimate human drama, the previous book by Ishiguro that it most obviously resembles is Never Let Me Go ... The new novel is less flamboyant in its flouting of literary norms, but it carries a similar sense of pervasive oddness ... wherever we situate Klara and the Sun in his oeuvre, its final emphasis, the impression it gives of quiet positivity, is radically different from anything else he has written.
The novel’s surreal underpinning is consolidated by Ishiguro’s persistent reminders that Klara’s vision is segmented into boxes and that she is not seeing humans the way other humans do, but in a more fragmented manner ... Reflections on profound questions take place even as Ishiguro builds up anxiety around Klara and the ailing girl whose AF she is ... There can be a looseness about Ishiguro’s novels — structurally or in terms of lengthy dialogues. Klara and the Sun, however, is taut, elegant and haunting. It is best read as a keen-eyed inquiry into the uniqueness of the human heart. Is there a soul, something, anything that is beyond the reach of technology that seems to be the harbinger of destruction of everything we know? Through the novel’s drama, Ishiguro offers us an answer which is as disturbing as it is intense.
... a novel about profound feeling ... a masterpiece ... we’re compelled to piece together from Klara’s observations a heartbreaking mosaic of human experiences: hope, need, love, loss, growth ... At its simplest level, Klara and the Sun is a fairy tale about a toy come to life and the lonely girl she seeks to rescue. But atop this simple foundation, Ishiguro has built a superstructure of enormous emotional and intellectual complexity. It is an extraordinarily rich work of art, compulsively readable and dense with meaning ... powerfully moving, gripping, consoling, beautiful. Ishiguro means for us to see what Klara cannot; and to wonder, after we close his novel’s pages, about the things we, too, might tragically have failed to grasp.
Ishiguro unfolds his story in a series of neat feints. From the reader's worry, early one, that Klara won't find a buyer, he advances the story in a series of steps where things could go different ways. The central question throughout, of course, is whether Josie is doomed, or whether she will be cured. Ishiguro nicely adds to the tension by making clear that Josie's mother is contemplating a Plan B, in case Josie doesn't make it, and so throughout there's the question of which way things will go ... Neatly developed, Klara and the Sun is agreeably unsettling. Ishiguro plays quite expertly with expectations, slow and careful in what he reveals -- aided by the use of narrator who is limited in perception and understanding. He captures the parent-child dynamic well ... A moving novel, Klara and the Sun effectively addresses quite a variety of big issues.
It is the matter of her intellect that both drives the plot and frustrates the reader. Klara is perceptive and knowledgeable, but she is convinced the Sun steps into a barn at the edge of the Western horizon to spend each night, like Helios resting his chariot ... She also uses strange diction with awkward phrasing, including addressing other characters in the third person. Extreme emotions seem to pixelate or fragment her vision; she describes seeing things in boxes, though exactly what that signifies is unclear. Yet she deduces conclusions about the schemes of the humans around her from limited information ... Klara is a more inscrutable character than Ishiguro’s previous outcasts and outsiders, and trying to access her heart feels a little like grasping at sunlight. It should be scientifically possible, yet we feel the rays have slipped through our fingers ... Still, like sunlight, this story nourishes and warms. Ishiguro may worry about our future, about our ability to cohere as a society, but he remains convinced of our capacity for love. We may not be able to ease loneliness or rise above our petty competitions, but we can know we have lived by how we have loved.
As soon as I started reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel, Klara and the Sun, I fell into the warm and familiar embrace of his writing ... Klara is a complex and interesting protagonist. She has great insight and empathy – a bit like the book’s author.
... in spite of those visible roots, Klara and the Sun is anything but derivative. Instead, as is so often the case with Ishiguro’s novels, new potential flowers up from ground that was apparently worn to bare earth ... Ishiguro is the master novelist of beautiful worlds with rotten cores ... Klara’s naïveté as a narrator is only one layer of this magnificent narrative. She doesn’t grasp the whole of any situation, but there’s more here than the struggle to parse a world beyond the narrator’s experience. Klara and the Sun is about families, about the future of work, about disability and the nature of (post) humanity. It’s a novel that questions the very foundations of reality in a world without consensus. And unlike so many of its sources, Ishiguro’s book is deeply, startlingly optimistic in its vision of individual and human life.
Ishiguro has written an exquisite book. At its best, it contains a loveliness that’s first poignant and then, on a second reading, sharp and driving as a needle ... His protagonists exist but don’t grow up; they are noticers but not changers, wonderful at describing an event without quite grasping its contours ... you eventually begin to notice how carefully the author has had to fence off certain complexities to keep his kite in the air. The book’s first 30 or so pages, when Klara’s in the shop, are perfect. Once she goes out into the world, we see the author’s unwillingness to fully imagine her existence. It’s strange, for instance, that a book about a buyable girl is so sexless. Klara is a naïf, but she never catches even a peripheral glance of human perversion? I can’t believe it ... But then, Ishiguro isn’t a futurist or even a realist. He’s a moralist, holding up one of Klara’s fractured mirrors to the use and waste of our current age. Klara’s pure, rather formal phrasing makes the book seem like a fable.
Narrated in the first person by Klara, the novel is a slow-burner: Ishiguro is in no hurry to get the plot airborne. The plot reveals itself subtly ... Ishiguro’s is a unique voice - careful and understated but with an undertone always of disturbance ... In lesser hands, a fable about robot love and loneliness might verge on the trite. With its hushed intensity of emotion, Klara and the Sun confirms Ishiguro as a master prose stylist. In his signature transparent prose Ishiguro considers weighty themes of social isolation and alienation.
The book has a straightforward structure, six parts, and a compelling narrative arc ... easy to read — that’s a compliment. It will stay with you. I am still unpeeling the layers. Ishiguro’s prose is not ostentatious. What you consistently get is that voice, a submissive affect; and rewarding philosophical explorations. Klara and the Sun is of intelligent design, as much about what makes us unique as it is AI. Read it and be nourished.
With Ishiguro we are often moving from a state of innocence to dark knowledge. His narrators come to their stories from the margins ... These are characters whose vision of the world is occluded. Ishiguro is a hoarder of secrets, which can make his books difficult for a reviewer to discuss without doing a bit of spoiling ... Gradually details of the world these characters inhabit are revealed, but our knowledge of this world is as partial as Klara’s. Her vision itself isn’t like ours: she takes in new landscapes through a series of boxes or rectangles—a further defamiliarizing aspect of her narration ... It is perhaps a credit to Ishiguro that I closed his book not sure to whom it belonged—to Josie or Klara or the Sun itself and therefore the larger forces of nature. Klara and the Sun is a study in frailty and impermanence, the endings none of us can escape.
In trademark Ishiguro style, this exposition is carefully layered so that we see the world slowly unfold through Klara’s eyes, at once terribly perceptive and incurably naïve ... Klara sees the world like a Paul Klee painting and so do we. It is an effective narrative trick that remakes the world as we know it ... The novel falters in the third act, where an attempt to set up a twist goes awry. Still, the characterisation of Klara is an undoubted triumph.
Ishiguro writes compassionately about teenagers, and their sense of being misunderstood dovetails with Klara’s loneliness. It is moving to see Klara almost forming bonds with people only to be reminded of her status as a robot and servant ... Political themes are more overt here than they have been before in Ishiguro ... Strangeness has always been one of the defining qualities of Ishiguro’s fiction but here it has become a mode that feels too cultivated to make Klara and the Sun truly unsettling. Klara can sound like an on-the-nose parody of an Ishiguro narrator ... succeeds as a distillation of its author’s long-standing interests, but it will fade in comparison to the uncanny power of the stories with which he made his mark.
... is, on one level, a simple story about a robot, a girl and the sun. Yet it is constructed so precisely and so artlessly that its simplicity is profoundly moving ... the way she arrives at its answer is so tenderly, powerfully human-like that it breaks the heart - that unreachable part inside every person that is the hardest to learn.
Unsettling, unremitting and psychologically stark ... for all the novel’s suspense, its big climactic moment falls a little flat ... If not always gripping, Klara and the Sun is a sweet and wistful depiction of a truly devoted relationship between a robot and her owner, one that shows the deep flaws of the human heart.
One of the peculiar pleasures of the novel comes from Klara's reframing of the familiar — whether it's teenage angst, or the comforting sound of a refrigerator, or the notion of privacy as something that might be taken or even stolen (though never by the ever-thoughtful Klara).
... asks profound questions about what it means to be human, about what our boundaries and limitations are, as well as what our peak achievements might be ... Ishiguro’s wonderful novel deals in shadow and light, but it’s Klara who triumphs and the light that wins.
As in many of his other novels, Ishiguro is rigorous in presenting the world through a limited viewpoint ... If the background is vague, however, what is in the foreground, the emotional impact of this upon the central characters, is totally convincing and very powerful ... There are so many mixed motives, hidden schemes, and misunderstandings threading their way through the novel that the only possible consequence of their exposure would seem to be things falling apart. But right at the end, Ishiguro bottles it. This is a story that, contrary to the logic of everything that has gone before, ends as it started, in sunshine. This is feeble, unearned, and fatally undermines the novel, as if his characters have gone through the tragedy of learning without actually learning of tragedy. In places, Klara and the Sun is as good, as moving, as enthralling as Ishiguro at his best, but the return to sunshine at the very end makes a nonsense of all that.
With restrained prose and vivid language, Ishiguro replaces the tired trope of whether computers can think with a complex meditation on whether computational processing can approximate emotion ... Ishiguro's latest novel is without resolution but will leave the reader with wonder.
The novel is an uneasy hybrid. It is partly about teenage uncertainties, anxieties and aspirations, all seen through the AF’s eye which is both sympathetic and puzzled. This, once you have accepted the device of a robot-narrator, is generally good. Ishiguro has always written well about young people ... Yet by choosing a robot as narrator Ishiguro is also announcing that his ambition goes beyond writing the sort of domestic coming-of-age novel that Josie’s character and circumstances seem to call for. There must also be public themes, questions for our time...All these things are discussible on the comment pages of newspapers. To be brought effectively into a novel they have to arise from the dramatic situation of the characters; and this doesn’t happen here. Perhaps the choice of a robot as a narrator who is an active character as well as an observer made this too difficult to be successfully brought off ... Ishiguro has always been a novelist and short story writer who came at things from an unusual, sometimes agreeably surprising, angle. He has always written with intelligence and charm. He still does. But over the years he has moved ever further from the novel of character and social observation towards writing about Big Themes ... It is ridiculous of course to ask that a novelist should retrace his steps and go back to writing the sort of things he used to write, but it is not ridiculous to regret the move away from the merely human. It is not ridiculous to find comedy disappearing from a writer’s work. There are still things to enjoy inn this novel, and I guess that many of Ishiguro’s admirers will lap it up. But for me there is an emptiness here, too much also that is merely discussible.
With echoes of themes in his internationally lauded Never Let Me Go (2005)—that life can be manufactured, bartered, bought—Booker-ed, Nobel-ed, and knighted Ishiguro presents a bittersweet fable about the human heart ... In Ishiguro’s near-future dystopia, Klara—appropriately monikered to suggest both clear and obvious—could prove to be the most human of all.
Nobel laureate Ishiguro takes readers to a vaguely futuristic, technologically advanced setting reminiscent of his Never Let Me Go for a surprising parable about love, humanity, and science ... As with Ishiguro’s other works, the rich inner reflections of his protagonists offer big takeaways, and Klara’s quiet but astute observations of human nature land with profound gravity ... This dazzling genre-bending work is a delight.
Much of Ishiguro’s tale is veiled: We’re never quite sure why Josie is so ill, the consequence, it seems, of genetic editing, or why the world has become such a grim place ... Working territory familiar to readers of Brian Aldiss—and Carlo Collodi, for that matter—Ishiguro delivers a story, very much of a piece with his Never Let Me Go, that is told in hushed tones, one in which Klara’s heart, if she had one, is destined to be broken and artificial humans are revealed to be far better than the real thing. A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.