KLARA AND THE SUN
BY KAZUO ISHIGURO
“Can you learn someone’s heart – not the organ, but something that makes us individual”
“Never Let Me Go” written in 2005 is a favourite in the Den (reviewed in the Den’s Library) – it is an exceptional dystopian novel which has also been made into a film and become a GCSE text. With Kazuo Ishiguro’s new book “Klara and The Sun” this award-winning author has returned with a bang, leading us into an imagined yet possible future - once again asking those difficult questions. The book is a masterpiece.
What instantly sets this story apart is that it is narrated by Klara who is an AF (Artificial Friend). Klara has been created to prevent teenagers from becoming lonely. Whilst on display at a department store, she is chosen by a young girl called Josie to be her companion. We soon discover that Josie is sick. Josie lives with her mother and housekeeper in almost total isolation, apart from her lessons which are given virtually by onscreen professors (how that resonates with what our own children have been doing!). Her only friend before Klara arrives, has been Rick. Rick has not been “chosen” like Josie.
Ishiguro is an expert of the ‘unsaid' and having Klara as the narrator allows us to focus on aspects of our lives from a fresh perspective. The reader is left to wonder what has actually been done to Josie, to her sister before her and why Josie’s father no longer lives with them. As the story unfolds, we understand Josie and others have been ‘lifted’ but why and for what purpose is unarticulated and the reader is required to add their own interpretation. We also learn that Klara has also been chosen for a purpose. Then there is the nod to the environment. Klara wants to stop the impending heartbreak and believes in the natural power of the sun. If she can destroy the Cootings Machine, which emits pollution, she will save Josie – and maybe all of us?
Alongside this futuristic imagined world, are the moments of love and pure friendship. When Josie is too sick to get out of bed, she draws child-like sketches of people to which Rick adds the word bubbles. This is a totally private moment between these two very different friends with very different destinies.
The beauty of “Klara and the Sun” is that as a reader, you don’t always understand what is going on. You are left to guess and wonder what is real, what is unsaid and what is perhaps never possible. A plethora of wonderful discussion points for your book club. 10/10’s from everyone in the Den.