The Unconsoled
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The Unconsoled

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  4,591 ratings  ·  570 reviews
Ryder, a renowned pianist, arrives in a Central European city he cannot identify for a concert he cannot remember agreeing to give. But then as he traverses a landscape by turns eerie and comical - and always strangely malleable, as a dream might be - he comes steadily to realise he is facing the most crucial performance of his life. Ishiguro's extraordinary study of a man...more
Paperback, 535 pages
Published 1995 by Faber and Faber
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Catch-22 by Joseph HellerThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienUlysses by James JoyceMoby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman MelvilleHoly Bible by Anonymous
The Most Begun "Read but Unfinished" (Initiated) book ever
203rd out of 1,412 books — 9,079 voters
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Japanese authors
27th out of 104 books — 103 voters


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William
Thoughts on my second reading of The Unconsoled.

This is subtle metafiction. The novel's form is a veiled commentary on the text's processes and progress. Structurally, I believe it to be Ishiguro’s most daring novel. I think it must have been awfully hard to write, but there’s no smell of the lamp about it. The prose is lighter than air. It strikes me as Ishiguro's most Kafkaesque novel, especially in its use of dissociative states. Kafka's "In the Penal Colony" especially springs to mind.

Its na...more
Emily
Having loved all his other novels, I finally got around to reading Ishiguro's The Unconsoled, and boy, was it strange and wonderful. I'd heard a vast array of opinions about this book, from "It is one of my top ten novels of all time" to "I loved it in a tense, uncomfortable way" to "it was an unmitigated train wreck." It's always intriguing to me when a book attracts such a wide variety of reactions, so I was looking forward to The Unconsoled for that reason. It also just so happens that I read...more
Seth Hahne
The Unconsoled is almost certainly not a work for everybody. Or even, perhaps, for many. Ishiguro has crafted what is a pretty thoroughly boring, deeply rewarding novel. What at first appears to be a simple series of encounters between a renowned pianist—Mr. Ryder to you—and the inhabitants of a European city turns out to be anything but. Ryder is ostensibly meant to play part in the concert performance that will bring the city back from the realm of the culturally inconsequential and into the f...more
K.D. Absolutely
Jul 24, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
A long 500plus-page read but an easy one. You don't need to grab the dictionary when you read an Ishiguro but you have to pause, drop the book, every hour or two just to take a breather. An Ishiguro is a joy because it is like a silent but deep pond but if you love to shoot the rapids, it can be boring. What I am saying is that this book is not for everyone and judging from the reviews of my GR friends who have read this already, their ratings tend to go either very/quite high (5 or 4) or very/q...more
Beth
I felt a tremendous sense of relief that I had finally completed Ishiguros’s The Unconsoled. I allowed myself to remember the experience of reading it, with its unusual memory-impaired narrator and the endless stream of absurdity and satire, and its improbable, dream-like narration. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like it would make the perfect subject for a Goodreads review. I worried a bit about the time it would take to make my feelings clear about the book, but after looking...more
Ellen
As a person who compulsively makes lists and worries about crossing things off them, I read this book with a continual low-level anxiety. The main character, a pianist traveling in an unnamed European city, continually makes promises and takes on enormous responsibilities and then fails to follow through with them for various absurd and aggravating reasons. The style of the book is unique and unexpectedly engaging, but the experience of immersing yourself in the story is one of frustration. I se...more
Jimmy
Oct 19, 2011 Jimmy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who aren't too anal
Recommended to Jimmy by: Jessica
This is undoubtedly Ishiguro’s masterpiece! I’ve read several of his other books, but I always come away from them with a mixture of enthusiasm and reserve. The thing is, Ishiguro is a control freak. His books always seem to me to be so well planned out that there is no sense of discovery for the reader. It is almost like you are being shown a set of corridors that unfold very sure-handedly. It’s artfully done, but that is the problem: as a reader, I feel like he hides certain things from me (pl...more
Alison

There are spoilers here. But I hardly think they matter.



Since Ishiguro is so concerned with how personal accountability intersects with personal and public delusionality, it only makes sense that he should have written a book in which a man approaches a public concert and keynote--and his family life--with the reckless, responsibility-free logic of dreams (stand up to give a speech and find yourself naked; turn into a pig; go backwards every time you step forwards, and why the hell not? And whil

...more
Lobstergirl
Jan 02, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: glaziers
I read quite a bit of this during insomniac chunks in the middle of the night. In spite of the fact that much of what is happening to the narrator, Ryder, if it happened to me in real life would be intensely disturbing - things such as time and distance warping, people making constant and unreasonable demands on me, missing scheduled appointments, not recognizing people I knew well - I found the whole novel soothing, and actually hard to put down. Of the Ishiguro novels I've read, which is now m...more
Boz4pm
This has a similar feel to Crime & Punishment or Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas: dark, unsettling and vaguely insane. It is, though, a masterpiece, no more no less.

It’s huge and yet I zipped through the thing in little over a week simply because it is compelling and very readable. The best I can come up with to describe this is it’s like reading the literary equivalent of a painting by Magritte – the ordinary, the everyday made surreal.

The story is told in the first person and through the ey...more
Whitaker
*Available from KOBOBOOKS

As many reviewers have pointed out, the novel has dream-like, meandering structure. Some readers found this off-putting and I can understand why. There are often lengthy repetitive passages of dialogue that are frankly simply trying and boring. If you decide to assay the novel, well, you have been warned.

The thing is, I don’t have a problem with dream-like or meandering. I enjoyed Kafka on the Shore , The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle , and The Trial each of which have these...more
Matthew Snyder
Basically every review I read of this book talks about how it's dream-like or even literally a dream recounted. That's not a very Ishiguro-like device. I feel like these reviewers must have very... normal lives. Like nothing weird ever happens to them, like they never find themselves in situations where they are not in control, or where agency just doesn't seem to be particularly important. This book is as much a page from real life as any memoir.

It's tough, this book. It doesn't come easy. It...more
Andrew
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are trying to get somewhere but things keep going wrong? You get on the wrong train, get off and go back in the other direction but it takes you somewhere else, then start walking but the streets don’t go where they’re supposed to?

I’ve had those, mostly at times of stress, when I had a lot on my mind and my life felt out of control. This book is one of those dreams, described in detail for 500 pages. It sounds like a nightmare, quite literally. I t...more
Lucy
I hated this book almost as much as I hated myself for finishing it! If it hadn't been a library book I genuinely would have thrown it away. It infuriated me incessantly. I honestly expected to get the end and see the phrase 'and then he woke up and it was all a dream' but was even more irritated when this didn't even happen, such was the non-sensical dreamesque drivel that had occupied the previous 500 pages. The character's weak will and inability to do what he wants to do was beyond irritatin...more
Beth
I really wish I could finish this book, but I just can't bear it any more! As a new reader of Ishiguro, I devoured Never Let Me Go, When We Were Orphans, and Artist of the Floating World in a month, but this book is so deeply frustrating, I found myself scanning whole chapters in an attempt to avoid the endless conversations.

While I can understand some people liking this book, the constant stalling drove me crazy, and it felt like Ishiguro was deliberately being obtuse to prove how clever he...more
Ken

Ryder arrives in town and steps into a hotel, ready to check in. And that's the last ordinary thing that happens in The Unconsoled. Ishiguro's narrative gradually descends into something other than reality. First, it's subtle: Ryder seems oddly patient as the hotel bellhop gives an extended monologue about himself and the respect (or lack thereof) accorded to his profession. Time seems to move in fits and starts, as characters whose concerns seem only incidental to the central plot (which surely

...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
Jury still out on this one. It is WEIRD.

The whole thing reads like a dream. Like a continuous dream in which you worry about certain disconnections in precisely the way you do when you're dreaming yourself. I think Ishiguro writes beautifully, so I'm content to follow whatever he does. It is not a short novel (535 pages) and I'm currently about half way through and I would say I'm enjoying the experience of reading, while having no clear sense of the point of any of the narrative. That shows how...more
Jeff Jackson
Mar 21, 2008 Jeff Jackson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kafka fans looking for a page turner
This massive novel orbits the rest of Ishiguro's books like a giant red planet, complete with its own gaseous atmosphere and gravitational pull. It's his longest, most experimental, and uncompromising work and pushes certain aspects of his sensibilty to their extreme.

Where his previous books were equisitely crafted machines that precisely put the reader through preordained emotional paces, 'The Unconsoled' is a brave leap into indeterminacy. This dream novel is a continual unbalancing act. Are...more
Turner
Sprawling, unfocused, enigmatic, and absolutely fantastic. This is one of those texts that seems best suited for a reader who doesn't mind getting lost, quite literally, in their book. The narration switches, without warning, from past to present and reality to dreams as the narrator gets as lost as the reader in the magical realism of a world built on memories (as all world are?). There may not be a specific point to the novel, but viewed as a study of an unraveling mind and the unpredictable p...more
Kathy
Oh good lord, this book never ends.

It just goes on and on getting weirder and weirder until you want to use the hefty thing to bash someone over the head with.

The story goes that Ryder arrives in a generic European city with no idea where he is, why he is there or who he is. An interesting premise but one which fails to deliver again and again. The whole thing is written like one of those never-ending dreams where you're constantly going through impossible doors and realising you're late for ap...more
Alison Brown
Amazing book! Notable for the fact the lead character (and the audience) has no idea who he is, where he is, or what he's doing - at any point through the novel.

In a way it's an anti-detective novel. Although it's evident that Ishiguro has crafted the book carefully and deliberately created the impression of chaos, trying to detect or piece together a sensible narrative of events and characters is completely against the idea of the book, and if you try to read the text in that way, you'll very l...more
Wordsmith
This was my first foray into Kazuo Ishiguro. I read this longer than long ago. Am I that same person now? I know I don't "read" the same. The shape of "The Unconsoled" alludes me. Is this due to the passage of time? Kazuo Ishiguro's storyline? Writing style? I forget.

As much as I would love to re-visit every book from back in the day; time, as they say, remains steadfast in it's ticking away. Time, effectively diminishes this possibility, yet I'm happy; as there remains countless unread and (hop...more
Simona
Nonostante Ishiguro sia lontano dagli scrittori giapponesi, è naturalizzato britannico, i suoi libri rimandano al senso onirico e anche all'illogico che caratterizza alcune delle opere di Murakami.
In una città non meglio precisata, in una città dell'Europa centrale, descritta con una dovizia di particolari e dettagli, Ishiguro ci guida alla scoperta della città e nel mondo degli "inconsolabili", persone che vivono in un perenne stato di agitazione, angoscia, ansia e dolore.
"Gli inconsolabili"...more
Kaci
It was definitely... interesting. Not a book you can sit and read in one sitting without experiencing it to its full value. The characters sure as hell talked a lot, though - that got on my nerves a bit, but overall this was a decent read. Made me think for once. I liked it.

Felt bad for Stephan, Boris, Fiona and Brodsky. They never quite got the treatment they deserved. Hoffman and Sophie were probably my least favorite people. Ryder had good intentions but the poor guy was so stressed and tire...more
notgettingenough
I'm baffled as to why I like this book so much. Maybe it's because I was trapped in Surfers Paradise and therefore had no choice. I feel it's his best book but I think it probably isn't....
pierlapo  quimby
Premetto che il libro sembra il perfetto esempio di opera destinata a piacere molto o a non piacere affatto, a seconda dei gusti, perché centrata su un'idea a dir poco inconsueta e tirata molto per le lunghe.
Qual sarebbe l'idea? Eccola: il romanzo è strutturato come un sogno del protagonista, ma in modo sottile e ben misurato, e proprio come capita nei sogni i concetti di tempo e spazio sono malleabili in funzione delle cose che ci accadono, i ricordi vanno e vengono, le ansie e i timori si tras...more
Ellie
This is probably one of the weirdest books I have ever read.

It's also probably one of the best.

The Unconsoled, featuring in the 2013 edition of Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, tells the story of world-famous pianist Ryder, who has travelled to a European city to undertake one of the most important performances in his life; the success or otherwise of the concert could make or break the host city.

The most important aspect of this book is the dream-like manner in which events are...more
tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
GoodReads, & my compulsion to write a review of every bk I read now, is beginning to turn into a nightmare for me. I look at my huge pile of bks-to-be-read & I think something like: "Am I ready to tackle this one yet?" Given that I tend to accumulate bks that I think will somehow expand my mind, the answer to the question is more than a bit ambiguous. Don't I already have enuf on my plate? & isn't GoodReads pushing the profit-off-of-ads thing A BIT TOO FAR?!

ANYWAY, it's almost alway...more
Tracy Sherman
Startling images of beauty, joy, hope and mystery, sadness and pain, much like life.
Surrounded by interminable boredom and ennui, repetition, frustration and aggravation. Again much like life.
For all it's emotions, on display as if in a petting zoo, it's curiously empty and most certainly distant.
If ever a book left me wanting more this is it....
Yet there is a comfort in being detached not caring about the characters and not having to share in the pain of these deeply troubled people.
But that...more
karen
i really enjoyed this book, but i'd warn anybody interested in reading it that it can be disorienting. you really experience the narrator's own confusion, boredom, and forgetfulness. it made me downright anxious when other characters would pressure him or start acting totally weird; i can't think of another book i've read, ever, that reminded me so strongly of my own social anxieties. you really have to be game to enjoy it, but i did. it's been a couple of years at least since i read it, and it'...more
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unreadability 21 101 Apr 08, 2014 01:55AM  
Ishiguro's USP 2 13 Sep 21, 2013 07:14AM  
I Read Therefore ...: August 2013 monthly Boxall's read- The Unconsoled 65 27 Aug 28, 2013 11:57AM  
Frustratingly compelling 2 69 Dec 01, 2008 07:33AM  
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Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄) is a British novelist of Japanese origin. His family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from University of Kent in 1978 and his Master's from the University of East Anglia's creative writing course in 1980. He became a British citizen in 1982. He now lives in London.

Ishiguro received the 1989 Man Booker prize for his third novel Th...more
More about Kazuo Ishiguro...
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“Your wound, your silly little wound! That's your real love, Leo, that wound, the one true love of your life! I know how it will be, even if we tried, even if we managed to build something all over again. The music too, that would be no different. Even if they'd accepted you tonight, even if you became celebrated in this town, you'd destroy it all, you'd destroy everything, pull it all down around you just as you did before. And all because of that wound. Me, the music, we're neither of us anything more to you than mistresses
you seek consolation from. You'll always go back to your one real love. To that wound! And you know what makes me so angry? Leo, are you listening to me? Your wound, it's nothing special, nothing special at all. In this town alone, I know there are many people with far worse. And yet they carry on, every one of them, with far greater courage than you ever did. They go on with their lives. They become something worthwhile. But you, Leo, look at you. Always tending your wound.”
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“It had occurred to me to follow her through into the next room, visitors or no visitors, and bring her back for a talk. But in the end I had decided in favour of waiting where I was for her return. Sure enough, a few minutes later, Sophie had come back into the room, but something in her manner had prevented me from speaking and she had gone out again. In fact, although during the following half-hour Sophie had entered and left the room several more times, for all my resolve to make my feelings known to her, I had returned to my newspaper with a strong sense of hurt and frustration.” 1 likes
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