26 August 2011

Review 35: The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro

This has got to be one of the strangest books I have ever read but it also one of the most wonderful. Perplexing, bizarre and yet moving and tense it is a truly unique book which divided opinion when it was first published. Opinions ranged from 'it has created its own category of badness' (critic James Wood) to 'it's almost certainly a masterpiece' (writer Anita Brookner). It is interested that Brookner included the 'almost' in her thoughts as it is a book which it is difficult to be sure about. I finished it a week or so ago but am still not really sure what I want to say about it.

The Unconsoled is the strange story of the pianist Ryder who arrives in an unnamed European city for a performance in an evening to try and resolve the political problems in the city. The problems are never really revealed and neither is Ryder's involvement. I don't want to give away the small amount of details that are revealed but I think it's worth saying that to really enjoy the book you need to relax about the fact that you have no idea whats going on. When I started the novel I was waiting for a big reveal and when I realised it wasn't coming I settled into just enjoying it.