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A Pale View of Hills (1982)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,396694,348 (3.7)1 / 305
From the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go In his highly acclaimed debut, Kazuo Ishiguro tells the story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her daughter. Retreating into the past, she finds herself reliving one particular hot summer night in Nagasaki, when she and her friends struggled to rebuild their lives after the war. But then as she recalls her strange friendship with Sachiko - a wealthy woman reduced to vagrancy - the memories take on a disturbing cast.… (more)
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English (63)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (69)
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
It's amazing that "A Pale View of Hills" is Kazuo Ishiguro's debut novel. It's strong work and bears so many hallmarks of his future novels as well.

Here, our narrator is a Japanese woman who now lives in America, reminiscing about her life in Nagasaki. She tells a tale that appears to mirror her own life (or was her own life, I wasn't totally sure.) It's the story of the relationships between parents and children and what is seen and unseen (intentionally or not.)

There were some similarities to Ishiguro's later work, but I still enjoyed this a lot. ( )
  amerynth | Jan 4, 2020 |
OK, so my own wacky interpretation of this novel is that Etsuko resented Sachiko's mistreatment of Mariko, and out of pity for Mariko she kidnapped her and took on the role of her mother. Moving to the UK and renaming her Keiko to get away from the trauma. The stark difference in the way Etsuko and Sachiko feel about Mariko makes me feel they can't be one and the same.

This isn't as well written or polished as Kazuo Ishiguro's later works, but certainly worth a read. If only for the discussion points and ambiguity in the final few chapters. ( )
  jigarpatel | Feb 27, 2019 |
A disturbing short novel. A Japanese woman expat in England reminisces about her early life in Nagasaki shortly after the end of the war. She remembers a friend with a child with dreams of being taken to the USA by her unreliable American boyfriend. The child imagines an old lady across the river. Back in England other memories are of a daughter committing suicide. But who is who? Is the memory of Japan of herself or another woman? Is the memory of the strange child in Japan her own child? As she gets older is she trying to make sense of her own life? ( )
  Steve38 | Aug 19, 2018 |
The first novel by a brilliant author, A Pale View of Hills has a disturbing undertone to it. Old memories clash as newer ones surface, yet Ishiguro's talent shows through on each page. The ending puzzled me a bit... ( )
  Soulmuser | May 30, 2017 |
I love the writing and quiet voice of Kazuo Ishiguro, this story (or parallel stories) of post-war Japan moves along quietly in the shadow of the death by suicide of Etsuko's eldest daughter. ( )
  brakketh | Dec 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
A Pale View of Hills is eery and tenebrous. It is a ghost story, but the narrator, Etsuko, does not realize that. She is the widow of an Englishman, and lives alone and rather desolate in an English country house. Her elder daughter, Keiko, the child of her Japanese first husband, killed herself some years before. The novel opens during a visit from her younger daughter, Niki, the child of her English second husband. Etsuko recalls her past, but Niki, a brusque, emancipated Western girl, is not very sympathetic. Her visit is uncomfortable and uncomforting, and she cuts it short: not only because of the lack of rapport with her mother, but because she can't sleep. Keiko's unseen ghost keeps her awake.
added by kidzdoc | editThe New York Rview of Books, Gabriele Annan (pay site) (Dec 7, 1989)
 
''A Pale View of Hills'' is Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel. Its characters, whose bursts of self-knowledge and honesty erase their inspired self-deceptions only briefly, are remarkably convincing. It is filled with surprise and written with considerable charm. But what one remembers is its balance, halfway between elegy and irony.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kazuo Ishiguroprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kendall, RoeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Niki, the name we finally gave my younger daughter, is not an abbreviation; it was a compromise I reached with her father.
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It doesn’t matter how old someone is, it’s what they’ve experienced that counts. People can get to be a hundred and not experience a thing.
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