A Pale View of Hills: Kazuo Ishiguro

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A Pale View of Hills: Kazuo Ishiguro

A Pale View of Hills: Kazuo Ishiguro

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A Pale View of Hills feels personal to Kazuo Ishiguro as the author came to the UK from Japan at the age of five and, like its characters, also experienced a cultural transition. However, that’s not the only thing Etsuko’s worried about, and as the story develops, we sense that there’s something not quite right about her friend and her relationships. After all, the narrator of the story tells us more than once that perhaps her memory is faulty, perhaps she is mixing things up. The characters are interesting and tell us a lot of the Japanese world and its changes in recent times.

This is because the author simply made pivotal elements of the book too subtle for anyone’s taste, resulting in the unsatisfying book, whose meaning simply gets lost as the readers are forced to go too far in their imagination to find it. At this point (present time, early 1980s), Keiko, who apparently never adjusted to her life in England, has been dead, a suicide, for some two-three years. The title may refer to someone who is no longer seeing her picture clearly, which may also be the events in her past. Also, similar to Sachiko’s odd relationship with her daughter Mariko, who sometimes does not even acknowledge her mother’s presence, Etsuko may have also only displayed aloofness, pride and morbid curiosity in relation to Keiko.

My only criticism is one I have made of debut novels before – the vagueness of the ending felt less deliberate and more as though Ishiguro wasn’t quite sure how to draw things together. but I won’t dwell on that here – I don’t want to spoil the fun 🙂 All I will say is that A Pale View of Hills is an excellent first novel, a debut with all the hallmarks of Ishiguro’s later work.

Keiko—we learn this late in the narrative—had lived with her Japanese father Jiro for the first seven years of her life, and we presume that she was attached to him. Anyone narrating his or her past uses a lot of confabulation, engages in make believe, but let’s say you live through having an atomic bomb dropped on you, as Etsuko has. Although we never learn the details from the repressed Etsuko, we know that she lost her fiancé, Nakamura, as well as, apparently, her parents and siblings (if she had any). The focus here is on Sachiko, and her determination to get out of Japan despite knowing her American partner isn’t to be trusted. There are immediate parallels with Etsuko's own situation, as Sachiko reveals her intentions to leave Japan with an American man.

Ishiguro’s novels are heavily populated by reticent people, who suppress their feelings, hold in their emotions, and lie to themselves. Was Etsuko strongly attached to her British husband, with whom she lived in England for some twenty years? g., the influence of the war (European theatre) in Remains of the Day, and An Artist of the Floating World treats the consequences of the war on the war generation of Japanese. A whole generation of people who had war trauma are robbed of their lives, but also their children are in a sense robbed of their parents. He is someone who dismisses the people closest to him and, without directly criticising him, Etsuko provides context through the household dynamic that summer for why she left Jiro.

In A Pale View Ogata-San, Etsuko’s father-in-law, a school teacher and headmaster (now retired), is the mouthpiece for the older generation, those who went along with the ever more virulent Japanese nationalism of the thirties and supported whole-heartedly the war effort. Quite possibly, some of the episodes describing the girl Mariko really relate to the girl or young woman Etsuko.

I wrote this review in 2018 when I still had not read that much of the Japanese literature but now that I have, I see that Ishiguro here “borrowed” much of that “narrative uncertainty” and “subtlety” from Japanese literary masters and their works (and this is not a flattering observation because he was unable to weave it in convincingly). I just wanted answers, instant gratification was my crime, and having finished the second read I believe I have found (some of) them, and made peace with the fact that I will likely be reteading it again at some point in the future. She finds herself reliving one particular hot summer in Nagasaki, when she and her friends struggled to rebuild their lives after the war.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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