Photo by Andrew Testa/Knopf for the Los Angeles Times

I had never read a book from Kazuo Ishiguro before, and I have not yet read any others from him. However, I loved Klara and the Sun, and I now wish to read more of his works.

I was immediately fascinated by the first-person perspective of the narration, a being—initially undefined—inside some sort of a store. I then developed an uncanny attachment for the protagonist, Klara, whom we come to understand is a sentient “artificial friend” or robot—as some other characters refer to her here and there, and who is eventually purchased by a woman for her daughter, Josie. I found myself captivated not only by Klara’s view of the world around her, by her insights into human nature, but also by the way in which she discovered it all, understood it, and interpreted it. Ishiguro really puts the reader inside this other being, a being whose nature and rights are repeatedly questioned by humans right in front of her. He does it so well that in one scene, where Josie has her classmates over and some of them begin to toy with Klara, I felt outrage, anger. I felt disgust when I learned the mother’s plan to save her daughter’s likeness, if not her person, and I was glad and relieved when she abandoned her plans, which would have affected both Josie and Klara, though in different ways.

Throughout the story, I remained intrigued by one element of the story or another, all the way to the end of the story. In fact, some questions are never answered by Ishiguro, and I was left perplexed. For sure, he does not reveal anything very quickly, and this frustrated me at times, especially when I still could not understand what Klara was trying to do to save her friend, Josie, or how she thought her actions would help the girl, until I realized that perhaps Klara was merely a victim of the same superstitions and beliefs that we, humans, fall prey to.

I loved this novel, its approach to asking very important existential questions, which we are confronted with even now, and will certainly later have to ask ourselves; Klara’s own humanity; and Josie’s childhood friend Rick, who is the kindest person, kind even to Klara and trusting her completely, after the initial diffidence, even though he has no better idea than the reader what it is that Klara is planning to do to save their friend.

L.A.

 

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