The Nobel Prize-winning author of Never Let Me Go returns with the story of Klara, an artificial friend who observes human life from her place on the shop shelf and—after she has been purchased—from inside the home of a troubled family.
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.