I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.
The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards—some strange and other-worldly—but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another.
Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.
This is only my second Ishiguro novel, the first being Never Let Me Go. I was intrigued at the repetition of one theme, that of needing to prove your love for someone. In NLMG, the cloned couple, Cathy and Tommy, believe that if they can just prove that they are really in love that they will be spared from the early death of having to supply organs to “real” people. In The Buried Giant, the elderly couple, Beatrice and Axl, believe that they must prove their love in order to pass over together to a (magical) island.
I was also intrigued with the theme of forgetfulness in The Buried Giant—the suggestion that we can only have peace if we forget all the events that we might hold against others. Is it easier to love someone if you cannot remember your past conflicts? And is that relationship worth losing your memory of all the positive events in your life too? The same questions apply to nations as well—would it be worth forgetting your history in order to achieve peace with your neighbours?
I work in the museum field which celebrates history, so I cannot advocate forgetfulness. In my opinion, it’s just as well that the magic available in The Buried Giant is unavailable in our world. We are made up of both the positive and negative events that have happened to us—even the painful ones contribute to who we become and help us to develop character. I wouldn't be myself without ALL of my memories.