Reviews for Klara And The Sun

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Library Journal
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When Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day; Never Let Me Go) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017, a member of the Academy noted, "He is not out to redeem the past, he is exploring what you have to forget in order to survive in the first place as an individual or as a society." Here, in his first novel since winning that esteemed award, Ishiguro imagines a world in which artificial intelligence has advanced into a form of companionship and a potential mode of immortality. The book's protagonist is Klara, an Artificial Friend with advanced observational capabilities. On sale in a shop, she is ultimately chosen by a family with a sick child, Josie. As Klara spends more time with the family, she comes to understand their collective hopes, dreams, and fears. Her objective processing of emotion slowly evolves into an understanding of the human condition. With restrained prose and vivid language, Ishiguro replaces the tired trope of whether computers can think with a complex meditation on whether computational processing can approximate emotion. VERDICT Ishiguro's latest novel is without resolution but will leave the reader with wonder.—Joshua Finnell, Colgate Univ., Hamilton, NY


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Nobelist Ishiguro returns to familiar dystopian ground with this provocative look at a disturbing near future. Klara is an AF, or “Artificial Friend,” of a slightly older model than the current production run; she can’t do the perfect acrobatics of the newer B3 line, and she is in constant need of recharging owing to “solar absorption problems,” so much so that “after four continuous days of Pollution,” she recounts, “I could feel myself weakening.” She’s uncommonly intelligent, and even as she goes unsold in the store where she’s on display, she takes in the details of every human visitor. When a teenager named Josie picks her out, to the dismay of her mother, whose stern gaze “never softened or wavered,” Klara has the opportunity to learn a new grammar of portentous meaning: Josie is gravely ill, the Mother deeply depressed by the earlier death of her other daughter. Klara has never been outside, and when the Mother takes her to see a waterfall, Josie being too ill to go along, she asks the Mother about that death, only to be told, “It’s not your business to be curious.” It becomes clear that Klara is not just an AF; she’s being groomed to be a surrogate daughter in the event that Josie, too, dies. Much of Ishiguro’s tale is veiled: We’re never quite sure why Josie is so ill, the consequence, it seems, of genetic editing, or why the world has become such a grim place. It’s clear, though, that it’s a future where the rich, as ever, enjoy every privilege and where children are marshaled into forced social interactions where the entertainment is to abuse androids. Working territory familiar to readers of Brian Aldiss—and Carlo Collodi, for that matter—Ishiguro delivers a story, very much of a piece with his Never Let Me Go, that is told in hushed tones, one in which Klara’s heart, if she had one, is destined to be broken and artificial humans are revealed to be far better than the real thing. A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Nobelist Ishiguro returns to familiar dystopian ground with this provocative look at a disturbing near future.Klara is an AF, or Artificial Friend, of a slightly older model than the current production run; she cant do the perfect acrobatics of the newer B3 line, and she is in constant need of recharging owing to solar absorption problems, so much so that after four continuous days of Pollution, she recounts, I could feel myself weakening. Shes uncommonly intelligent, and even as she goes unsold in the store where shes on display, she takes in the details of every human visitor. When a teenager named Josie picks her out, to the dismay of her mother, whose stern gaze never softened or wavered, Klara has the opportunity to learn a new grammar of portentous meaning: Josie is gravely ill, the Mother deeply depressed by the earlier death of her other daughter. Klara has never been outside, and when the Mother takes her to see a waterfall, Josie being too ill to go along, she asks the Mother about that death, only to be told, Its not your business to be curious. It becomes clear that Klara is not just an AF; shes being groomed to be a surrogate daughter in the event that Josie, too, dies. Much of Ishiguros tale is veiled: Were never quite sure why Josie is so ill, the consequence, it seems, of genetic editing, or why the world has become such a grim place. Its clear, though, that its a future where the rich, as ever, enjoy every privilege and where children are marshaled into forced social interactions where the entertainment is to abuse androids. Working territory familiar to readers of Brian Aldissand Carlo Collodi, for that matterIshiguro delivers a story, very much of a piece with his Never Let Me Go, that is told in hushed tones, one in which Klaras heart, if she had one, is destined to be broken and artificial humans are revealed to be far better than the real thing.A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

With echoes of themes in his internationally lauded Never Let Me Go (2005)—that life can be manufactured, bartered, bought—Booker-ed, Nobel-ed, and knighted Ishiguro presents a bittersweet fable about the human heart as “[s]omething that makes each of us special and individual.” Or not. Klara is an AF, as in Artificial Friend. She is also “quite remarkable,” “has extraordinary observational ability,” and while she might not be the latest B3 model, her empathic skills are unparalleled. She’s delightedly chosen by 14-year-old Josie, who takes her home to live with Mother and Melania Housekeeper. Next door is Josie’s best friend, Rick, and his single mother. Klara integrates, routines settle. But Josie is ill, with an older sister who died too young. Desperate to save Josie, Mother covertly pushes science, Melania attempts bullish protection, and Rick promises true love. Klara, meanwhile, devises her own plan: a deal with the Sun, who’s already, miraculously, rescued Beggar Man and his dog. Sacrifices will be necessary. In Ishiguro’s near-future dystopia, Klara—appropriately monikered to suggest both clear and obvious—could prove to be the most human of all.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Ishiguro is a big draw and his return to the mode of the mega-popular Never Let Me Go will generate particularly fervent requests.


Publishers Weekly
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Nobel laureate Ishiguro takes readers to a vaguely futuristic, technologically advanced setting reminiscent of his Never Let Me Go for a surprising parable about love, humanity, and science. Klara is an Artificial Friend (AF), a humanlike robot designed to be a child’s companion. She spends her days watching humans from her perch in the AF store, fascinated by their emotions and hungry to learn enough to help her future owner. Klara, who is solar-powered, reveres the sun for the “nourishment” and upholds “him” as a godlike figure. Klara is eventually bought by teenager Josie and continues to learn about humans through her interactions with Josie’s family and childhood friend. When Josie becomes seriously ill, Klara pleads with the sun to make her well again and confronts the boundary between service and sacrifice. While the climax lends a touch of fantasy, Klara’s relationship with the sun, which is hidden at times by smog, touches on the consequences of environmental destruction. As with Ishiguro’s other works, the rich inner reflections of his protagonists offer big takeaways, and Klara’s quiet but astute observations of human nature land with profound gravity (“There was something very special, but it wasn’t inside Josie. It was inside those who loved her,” Klara says). This dazzling genre-bending work is a delight. (Mar.)

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