Reading: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

It seems to me that the themes of science fiction have been moving into works that would be considered literary fiction and outside the genre of SciFi. While some SciFi, like the work of Ursula Le Guin, had literary aspiration but was seen as part of the Genre, I think the separation now is mostly one drawn by publishers and bookstores as to where to shelve or categorize certain books.

Certainly, if Klara and the Sun hadn’t been written by the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro, it would very comfortably find its place on the SciFi shelf. I’ve never read any of his books before, so can’t comment on how it fits stylistically with previous work. My only point of reference in Japanese fiction is Murakami, who’ve I read for many years. There’s certainly some similarity in having a relatively simple narrative line with a single character point of view and a straightforward story that moves directly from inception to conclusion.

I’m reminded once again of the idea that the power of fiction is to relate ideas that can’t be simply put into words. Instead, the story evokes themes where characters and situations provoke questions as we witness the unfolding story. Here, the book is narrated by Klara, an Artificial Friend who is a self aware and independently acting android, manufactured to be a child’s companion. Having been manufactured and gifted with an interior life, Klara has aspirations. Her attempts at fulfillment provide a view into the dreams and disappointments of the family that acquires her. It’s a touching story, made poignant by the nature of the limitations of it’s narrator.

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