Rare are such beautifully written novels so in tune with objects of debate in modern society.
Never Let Me Go, is the sixth book by Kazuo Ishiguro, shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Price for Fiction. It is narrated by a
31-year old woman named Kathy who remembers and narrates her days
spent at Hailsham, an elite boarding school in the English countryside
which, the reader will learn, is inextricably linked with one of the
most controversial topics of our day; linked in a way that its
boarders can not at first imagine, linked in a manner that the reader
can not believe, even after closing the book.
As they remain within the boundaries of their school, the students of
Hailsham realize that they are special in a certain way, but without
quite understanding how. They are kept away from society, are told that
they are great, chosen ones, but they know not what makes their school,
and them, different. It is only through rumor and clues left by pained
instructors that the students begin to realize that being special does
not mean that their destinies are ones that might be envied. Over time,
they begin to realize what those destinies entail, without ever quite
remembering how they learned it.
Ishiguro is so talented at only relenting clues by the eye dropper,
slowly and exactly, that it would be wrong to divulge here the premise
of a novel that he painstakingly built around an indirect road,
precisely and incrementally. Just as the students do not remember the
moment at which they learned about their purpose in life, the reader
does not remember the passage that announced it clearly.
It is a beautifully woven road, one that makes the reader think about
how humanity, science, and ethics are to mix in modern times. But to
divulge the central premise of the book here would detract from
appreciating Ishiguro’s craft.
Never Let Me go is thus a book written in the style of great
literature, mixed with a plot of modern and frightening candor. A book
in which the characters wonder if they are entitled to feel, to love,
to live, and one in which the reader marvels in not having to pose
him/herself such questions. Ishiguro invents words that are exact,
precise in communicating the lives of Hailsham students, while robbing
them of certain emotions.
For those who wonder about science and ethics in the 21st century, it
is a must read. And all the more so because it is written by the
marvellously talented hand of Ishiguro, the inestimable author of
Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans.