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183 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1982
1. Many loose ends are not explained. Examples: Why did Keiko kill herself? When did Etsuko get married to her second husband? Others may say that these are inconsequential but these, in my opinion, are vital to the story to establish what kind of wife and mother Etsuko was. Ishiguro made use of her unreliability as an excuse for his style. When I closed the book I had the feeling that he did not know how to end his book that was why he left it open ended. But it worked, it won an award. So, from then on, he made sure all of his succeeding books are open ended.However, I do not blame others for liking this book. Ishiguro's style is his and who am I to challenge it. It's just that I'd rather have variety in my reading. I do not want to keep on reading the same plot with only few of the elements changed. When I open a book, I would always like to be engaged and if this is not asking for too much... to be surprised. Beautifully surprised.
2. Even when the characters are Japanese and have never been to Britain, they talk like British. I have been to Japan thrice and as part of my work for so many years, I have been communicating with Japanese. In this book, the characters say "certainly", "lovely", "wonderful" or "Why, of course, Etsuko." That "Why" that starts a response caught my attention while reading. Japanese do not use that. They normally just say "Yes" (like when they snappily say "Hai!"). They normally don't use flowery words. Think about Haruki Murakami's novels, and you know what I mean.
3. Although I liked the overall style of the book: the hallucinatory guilt of the mother whose elder daughter Keiko killed herself presumably because she was uprooted from her native land, I've read and loved two more powerful depiction of extreme sadness and loneliness of women who have just loss their loved ones in Janice Galloway's The Trick Is to Keep Breathing and Lydia Davis's The End of the Story. Even my brother's favorite book, Jean Rhys's Good Morning, Midnight has captured better the melancholy emotion of a woman in the height of her sadness and despair over a loved one. For me, Ishiguro is better when his first person unreliable narrator is a male instead of a female. There are just some emotions that fail to transfer to me when a male author is trying to make me believe that the female narrator is sad, hallucinating and probably contemplating on suicide. I could taste a tinge of deception and dishonesty at the tip of my tongue.