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The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Unconsoled (1995)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,640553,218 (3.58)190
  1. 31
    The Castle by Franz Kafka (chrisharpe)
  2. 10
    Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz (slickdpdx)
    slickdpdx: Ishiguro's The Unconsoled may be the pinnacle of this peculiar genre.
  3. 00
    The Keep by Jennifer Egan (sturlington)
    sturlington: Surreal stories in unnamed Central European settings.
  4. 00
    The Feverhead by Wolfgang Bauer (slickdpdx)
    slickdpdx: Ishiguro's The Unconsoled may be the pinnacle of this peculiar genre.
  5. 00
    The Thief of Time by John Boyne (Booksloth)
  6. 00
    2666 by Roberto Bolaño (Dystopos)
  7. 12
    An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (Booksloth)

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» See also 190 mentions

English (48)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
This book was exhausting. Each of the characters lives in a bizarre social isolation such that they all interact without ever really seeing or paying attention to each other, so they bare their souls at each other in long, drawn out conversations, but most of these conversations are disjointed, since they are never really listening to each other. The main character is a famous pianist, though his seeming fame in the small town where he's arrived seems a bit overblown, and makes the whole town seem more pathetic and petty and small. Meanwhile the pianist, despite his vague disorientation on arriving in the town, seems to know a lot of the residents, from his childhood anyway, and he even has a girlfriend, though he seems not to remember at first that he even knows her. The whole book is like a dreamscape, in that the characters slip through doors that magically land them in totally different locations, and time passes a bit non-linearly, so that the few days the story spans seem like a lot longer. At over 500pgs, this is a tiring book, but it was still rather good. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
An unusually different book, "The Unconsoled" is one prolonged dream. It takes place entirely in the mind of the narrator Ryder, a pianist visiting an un-named European city. That said, nothing is certain, not Ryder's true identity, or who his family members are. The world Ishiguro creates is soft and malleable, Ryder travels large distances by tram or car to get to his assignations, only to find a previously unseen doorway leading straight back to his hotel. The densely populated town of his dreams has a deep need for a musical saviour and lauds him with respect. Ryder's huge ego is evident, he seems certain of himself, but he appears perpetually lost, late for an appointment, and in need of rest. The idea that many of the characters are in fact Ryder himself at different points in his life could be helpful in understanding it.
There is no doubt about it, this is a difficult book, not everyone will like it. If you like Kafka's 'The Castle', then you will probably enjoy it. I think it's brilliant, unconventional and a fascinating portrait of the inner mind. And fans of Ishiguro will find many parallels to his other works. Also it shows the authors very subtle sense of humour. ( )
1 vote Estramir | Jan 12, 2017 |
THE UNCONSOLED. Kasuo Ishiguro remains one of my favourite contemporary writers. His books are imaginative, inventive, strongly crafted and push the boundaries to the very edges. This my favourite of his novels, all of which I've read. It's a slippy book, disorientated in time and space and drenched in music. The book sank like a stone, which didn't surprise me, its messages are subtle, and unlike the feted Ian McEwen, who can do no wrong with the critics, I fancy Ishiguro is less liked - and I do (secretly) wonder if that is because he is less English. Unlike his previous books, including, of course, Remains of the Day, and his subsequent books, especially Never Let Me Go, now a film, The Unconsoled sank like an anchor after receiving universally bad reviews at the time of its publication. The Telegraph review said it was a sprawling, almost indecipherable 500-page work and the Guardian said it left readers and reviewers baffled. One literary critic said that the novel had invented its own category of badness. Meanwhile, I was reading it with intense absorption and enjoyment, understanding exactly what he was getting at...at least I thought I did...clearly a reader's interpretation is their own. The Unconsoled is set over three days in the life of concert pianist Ryder, who has come to an unnamed European city to perform. His memory seems patchy and selective and he drifts from situation to situation as if in a surreal dream, unable to totally understand what is going on.
I'm glad to say that by 2005 literary critics were beginning to agree with me...they voted the novel as the third best British, Irish, or Commonwealth novel from 1980 to 2005, and The Sunday Times placed it in 20th century's 50 most enjoyable books, later published as Pure Pleasure; A Guide to the 20th Century's Most Enjoyable Books.
One scene in the book has never left me; Ryder is in his hotel room when he notices that the rug is similar to the one he played soldiers on when a child. Suddenly, he realizes that the room is actually his old bedroom; he's back in his childhood. What follows is a tender, almost cherishing memory of better times which seems totally part of Ryder's life now. At the time I had just finished nursing my mother, who'd died of the advanced stages of a particularly psychotic form of Alzheimer's disease, and Ryder's problems and experiences reminded me of the twilight world she'd lived in, where real life probably invaded her dream world in unpleasant ways...she was happiest when imagining I was her sister, Beatrice, and that we were both in our twenties and living together before Mum married my father (Beatrice never married – in fact she came to live with the newly-weds!) Listening to Mum's mad conversations with herself gave me a wonderful insight into what life was like before the second world war (my mum was quite old when I was born).
I would recommend Ishiguro to anyone who hasn't yet read him...all his books. But The Unconsoled has a special place in my heart and will never leave my bookcase...so get your own copy! ( )
1 vote ninahare | Nov 18, 2015 |
this is the most extraordinarily irritating book with one of the least likable 'heroes' i've ever come across... i am - literally! - struggling to push through to the end. ( )
  crowspeaks | Oct 16, 2015 |
The first book in many a year that I failed to get into - discarded after about 50 pages.
The book has the main character in a dream-like state - he doesn't quite remember where he is, and what he has to do. An interesting creation, and probably worth persisting with, if you have the endurance. But after checking reviews, I have decided that I am not going to get a lot more from the next 450 pages than I got from the first 50. So, put aside until I'm in traction and have run out of books.
Not read Feb 2015. ( )
1 vote | mbmackay | Feb 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
The Unconsoled itself is beautifully controlled, even-paced, deadpan in spite of all extravagances. Its determined equanimity of tone makes you drowsy, and sometimes you wonder if you'd notice if you dropped off to sleep while you were reading. But there is finally something haunting, even alluring, about the proliferation of obstacles and stories in this book.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Michael Wood (pay site) (Dec 21, 1995)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679735879, Paperback)

The Unconsoled is at once a gripping psychological mystery, a wicked satire of the cult of art, and a poignant character study of a man whose public life has accelerated beyond his control. The setting is a nameless Central European city where Ryder, a renowned pianist, has come to give the most important performance of his life. Instead, he finds himself diverted on a series of cryptic and infuriating errands that nevertheless provide him with vital clues to his own past. In The Unconsoled Ishiguro creates a work that is itself a virtuoso performance, strange, haunting, and resonant with humanity and wit.

"A work of great interest and originality.... Ishiguro has mapped out an aesthetic territory that is all his own...frankly fantastic [and] fiercer and funnier than before."--The New Yorker

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:54 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A surrealistic novelw on a man who finds himself in a strange city, not knowing what he is doing there, but everyone seems to know him. What is more, he must be important because people ask him for favors. As he goes from encounter to encounter, the man discovers himself.… (more)

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