Thursday, January 4, 1996

The Unconsoled, by Kazuo Ishiguru

A review of The Unconsoled, by Kazuo Ishiguru
Published January 4th, 1996, in The Minnesota Daily’s A&E Magazine

By Kazuo Ishiguru
Knopf, $25

It’s been six years since Kazuo Ishiguru released the triumphant Remains of the Day to universal acclaim, and now, with the publication of The Unconsoled, his fourth novel, it seems there’s nothing this author can’t do.

The story concerns one Mr. Ryder, an internationally renowned pianist who arrives in an unnamed city for a performance about which he has no information. He’s too embarrassed to ask for a copy of his itinerary, so for more than 500 pages, the reader gets to follow him in his blind descent into the town’s inner machinations.

The style of this novel is virtuosity itself. Ishiguru employs astonishing literary tricks, and his tone is so well sustained that even at its most bizarre, the novel’s progress is seamlessly inevitable.

Although Ishiguru denies it (admitting that he’s never read the whole thing), this novel has a definite affinity to Franz Kafka’s The Castle. Don’t let that sway you either way, though, because The Unconsoled is a truly vital and original work. Its strange beauty left me reeling and extremely satisfied.

—David Wiley

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