The Buried Giant is a tale of an elderly couple who journey away from their village to visit their son, who they haven't seen a while and they can't sThe Buried Giant is a tale of an elderly couple who journey away from their village to visit their son, who they haven't seen a while and they can't seem to remember why they haven't keep in touch. There is a lot of talk about nymphs, fairies and demons- as there might have been during such times. Their daily life seem to have been captured as historically accurate as can be.
Ultimately, the story is about them uncovering the past they may have forced themselves to forget, with or without the magical elements that are blamed for causing the memory loss.
Mr Ishiguro is an excellent storyteller with a flair for flowery, eloquent yet measured dialogues. These qualities produced beautiful results when set in post-WWII Japan (An Artist of the Floating World) and mid-20th century English manor house (The Remains of the Day).
It worked in this novel too, but the setting is one that mingles the supernatural (a departure from his usual genre) with post-Roman Britain, which felt uneasy. This work is also dripping in symbolism, left to the readers' interpretation, such as the mysterious 'boatmen' who ferry travellers across the water, one at a time, but feel the need to ask probing questions of them.
It is a good read, but does not eclipse the earlier works by the author. ...more
Set in the days before Gautama (spelled Gotama in this novel) achieved Nirvana (but has achieved enlightenment), this story follows the life of SiddhaSet in the days before Gautama (spelled Gotama in this novel) achieved Nirvana (but has achieved enlightenment), this story follows the life of Siddhartha, a young Brahmin who leaves home to seek the truth by joining the monks/samanas. His friend Govinda, is very fond of Siddhartha and joins him on his quest.
Their journey crosses path with that of the Gotama Buddha, and this is where Govinda and Siddhartha part ways. The former to become Buddha's follower, but Siddhartha, despite feeling that Buddha has found peace is unable to accept his teachings.
In his quest to find his 'Self' and peace, Siddhartha finds pleasure with the beautiful courtesan called Kamala, riches, and even a son (by Kamala)then loses it all and sets on the course to find 'Self' again. Siddhartha (with gurus- Vasudeva the boatman and the river) meets Govinda (who followed Buddha's teachings) again, twice. When comparing their experiences, Siddhartha still comes across as more 'accomplished' than the other in having been enlightened.
I had reservations about this novel, mostly because it may be seen as cultural appropriation, a hot topic in the cultural scene these days even though it was written in early 1920s. The setting of the novel appears sanitised and devoid of the unpleasantness of what Buddha is said to have observed before choosing monkhood- starvation, diseases and suffering, very often a direct effect of caste discrimination. Siddhartha himself, a member of the upper caste never had to get his hands dirty, starved only by choice as monk and seemed to have had a charmed life even in his low moments.
This novel doesn't explore Buddhism in depth, which is fine since that is not the focus of the narrative but may appear lofty and abstract in places for the general reader. The vocabulary may appear repetitive (words and phrases such as mortification of the flesh, samsara, enlightenment), but makes for pleasant reading nonetheless. It is also jarring how a samana like Siddhartha was quick to discard his old life at the sight of a beautiful woman like Kamala.
The author does not dispute the Buddha's teachings, but offers another path to salvation- embracing the nature (instead of rejecting it as maya/illusion), living the life and learning from it (not removing oneself from samsara unlike the monks) and love (instead of keeping oneself free from being bound to this earthly emotion). This seems to me an attempt to reconcile his western roots, culture and perhaps even (Christian) faith with the newfound one of Buddhism. In short, this novel, which perhaps was one of the first taste of a novel Eastern philosophy for the Western world should be judged as one from its time. As such, this is a good read....more
An author who makes you smile and chuckle while he is telling you some of the grimmest details of human history: Kurt Vonnegut.
The common themes of hAn author who makes you smile and chuckle while he is telling you some of the grimmest details of human history: Kurt Vonnegut.
The common themes of his writing- the futility of war, science fiction writing, insanity (of sane and crazy persons alike) and racial injustice in society prevails in this novel too. The narrative blends his brand of humour (which I find appealing) with the Vietnam war veteran and his return to society afterwards. While it hasn’t eclipsed his best works, Slaughterhouse 5 and Breakfast of Champions, this is another good read from Vonnegut. ...more
Blindness presents a world where one man's sudden, unexplained loss of sight turns others around him blind. In the wake of this highly contagious 'whiBlindness presents a world where one man's sudden, unexplained loss of sight turns others around him blind. In the wake of this highly contagious 'white sickness' (all the sufferer could see is white), the group of people who have gone blind, including an ophthalmologist and his wife (who hasn't gone blind but lied to be with her husband) are immediately quarantined.
The narrative explores the intricacies of life if everyone is without sight. Situation quickly dwindles to the usual post-apocalyptic type situation; hunger, disorder and crumbling of social contracts.
However, the author employs his unique style of writing of a minimalist with punctuation can make it harder reading than it needs be. Dialogues are not always attributed to a specific character and whole paragraphs flow for a page or more. The characters and location lack names, giving a certain universality to the plot, betrayed only perhaps by a sentence or two (e.g. reference to chorizo).
I would recommend it to dystopia-fiction fans who don't mind unconventional style of writing....more
This novel is a whole world apart from Golding's Lord of the Flies (which I loved), unfortunately in ways I do not appreciate.
I found the narrative tThis novel is a whole world apart from Golding's Lord of the Flies (which I loved), unfortunately in ways I do not appreciate.
I found the narrative too flowery (I admit this is more a failing in me than the author- I tend to avoid works with 'classical' dialogue) and the pace too slow to eke out the few events that happen on this voyage to last the entire book. There were no characters that I could sympathise with (doesn't help that I am not interested in the subtle class wars of Ye Old English and powdered wigs) and as such was bored with this work altogether.
At the end of the novel, they still hadn't reached their exotic destination, but I don't think I will tune in for the next installation of this trilogy....more
A clear analysis on the damage the runaway capitalism since the late 20th century is doing to the western democracy.
Perhaps democracy's One Man/WomanA clear analysis on the damage the runaway capitalism since the late 20th century is doing to the western democracy.
Perhaps democracy's One Man/Woman, One Vote can be also be read that all are created equal, regardless of the cynics and realists' cry that it was naive to ever interpret it so. It can also be extrapolated to mean every person has equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process as candidate in elections (hence there being no barriers to discriminate candidates based on their physical conditions, beliefs, education etc.). However, democracy is an increasingly expensive venture, where only individuals with substantial finances/ financial backing can enter- a barrier that is going to get worse with time where the richest 1% of the society own more than the rest of the world.
Politics and business are hence locked in a cyclic process to feed each other, cutting out the masses that they both need to appease the most: public.
Author's arguments were balanced and reflected not only what went wrong but also offers opinions on how some trends could be beneficial/disastrous for the future....more
Its beginning is set in Dominique, in the household of white couple, Valerian and Margaret, with black servants, Sydney and Ondine and their niece, JaIts beginning is set in Dominique, in the household of white couple, Valerian and Margaret, with black servants, Sydney and Ondine and their niece, Jadine. The rising excitement of having her son Michael home for Christmas was shattered for Margaret when she finds a black man, Son hiding in her wardrobe. The dynamics of the relationships between the central characters suffers an irrepairable change due to the course of the events that follow.
The author highlights (while remaining neutral) the relationship between American black butler/cook and their white master/mistress, how the former treat Dominican black servants, the bond and expectations between a niece and her guardians and the clashes of African v European cultures from American black point of view.
It has been a pleasure to read another of Morrison's novels....more