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Four must-reads by a master of understatement

Jai Arjun Singh | March 15, 2005

Booker Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro's latest novel, Never Let Me Go, has just hit the stands.

This is an event. Because Ishiguro, one of the most elegant living writers, produces a new book only every five years or so.

Here is a look at four books by the author you cannot miss!

A Pale View Of The Hills~ A Pale View Of Hills

Ishiguro's debut novel, published in 1982, introduced some of his trademarks, including a reticent, emotionally repressed narrator (in this case Etsuko, a Japanese woman living in England, looking back at her life in Nagasaki), sifting through unreliable memories in a search for meaning.

Written in a stunningly simple (and very mannered) style that conceals layers of meaning, this book can be read as a conventional narrative. But analyse Etsuko's memories of a friend and her daughter in Japan and you will find startling undercurrents.

~ The Remains Of The Day

Ishiguro's best known and most appreciated novel, this Booker winner, set in the 1950s, is also his most straightforward narrative.

Stevens, an ageing English butler, takes a cross-country trip to meet a former housekeeper he was once in love with.

His scattered memories cast light on the misguidedness of an entire society and way of living. Though, ironically, he would never be capable of admitting it himself.

The Unconsoled~ The Unconsoled

Ishiguro's longest, strangest, most ambitious novel stretches the boundaries of surrealistic writing.

The narrator, an internationally acclaimed pianist we know only as Mr Ryder, comes to an unnamed European city for a performance that is apparently of crucial importance - though we never learn why.

If that is a vague description, it is apt for this book, which is full of broken ends and missed connections. But they add up to a poignant masterpiece about a man who has lost all control over his life.

The final passage, with Ryder contemplating a lavish breakfast on a city tram that moves along a circular route, Never Let Me Gois one of the author's finest, most bittersweet pieces of writing.

Never Let Me Go

Ishiguro treads uncharted territory in his new book, set in an alternate society -- an England where clones are raised in country houses and prepared for their life's work as organ donors.

But this ostensible science-fiction framework (certainly a first for the author), is a red herring, a pretext for a moving exploration of the fragility of human relations and the impossibility for some people of ever truly belonging.

One definite flaw, however, is the  over-explanatory climax. It doesn't belong in a work by a man whose great strength is allusion rather than exposition.

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