the unconsoled

This was one of the first Kazuo Ishiguro novels I read, and believe me, it is not a book I would recommend to anyone on the Night Shift.  To go into detail would baffle you.  A possible synopsis would leave you feeling concerned.  While the novel in itself is not badly written (or badly translated), the fact that you never find consolation throughout the entire journey is reason enough to call it, as I’m sure many reviewers have, pure and utter badness.

None of the characters are likeable.  The main character is supposed to be this grand pianist invited to a town in the back end of nowhere in some indistinct region of Europe who never quite delivers on being a great husband, step-father, professional or person.  He slides from one indiscriminate scene to another, making promises he never keeps to people he keeps meeting over and over.  Sometimes these people treat him with as much reverence as a turd in the street whilst others place him on pedestals without seemingly good cause.  If I had to pick out moments of triumph, those would lie solely in the fact that the novel finally ended, and with it ending, you realise what a truly foolish endeavour it was to read the novel in the first place.

The novel is called The Unconsoled, and the reason why readers don’t seem to like it is because of that element which they so often take for granted when reading any kind of story: the right to be consoled.  In every chapter, in every moment, the characters and readers are ruthlessly deprived of any consolation, potential or imagined. If you have the slightest ambition to escape the Night Shift, don’t ever read this book: it will drain your hopes and dreams of doing so.  However, if you know someone detestable who does, and who also shares your stubbornness for completing any novel they happen to lay eyes on – whatever the cost – then The Unconsoled is by all means a novel for them!


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