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The Unconsoled (1995)

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,441783,526 (3.59)215
Fiction. Literature. Humor (Fiction.) From the universally acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day comes a mesmerizing novel of completely unexpected mood and matter??a seamless, fictional universe, both wholly unrecognizable and familiar. When the public, day-to-day reality of a renowned pianist takes on a life of its own, he finds himself traversing landscapes that are by turns eerie, comical, and strangely malleab… (more)
  1. 32
    The Castle by Franz Kafka (chrisharpe)
  2. 00
    2666 by Roberto Bolaño (Dystopos)
  3. 00
    The Thief of Time by John Boyne (Booksloth)
  4. 00
    Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz (slickdpdx)
    slickdpdx: Ishiguro's The Unconsoled may be the pinnacle of this peculiar genre.
  5. 00
    In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster (Vonini)
    Vonini: Same surreal feeling
  6. 12
    An artist of the floating world by Kazuo Ishiguro (Booksloth)
  7. 01
    The Feverhead by Wolfgang Bauer (slickdpdx)
    slickdpdx: Ishiguro's The Unconsoled may be the pinnacle of this peculiar genre.
  8. 01
    The Keep by Jennifer Egan (sturlington)
    sturlington: Surreal stories in unnamed Central European settings.
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» See also 215 mentions

English (69)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  German (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
Here is what I wrote in 2011 about this read: "Oh my, that was a challenge. 500 pages, three days, little sleep for pianist Mr. Ryder, and left with the impression on a dream. Three variations on the theme of a talented musican at different life stages. Variations on a theme of broken relationships and estrangement: between parents and children, between lovers. Most memorable scene: Ryder, Sophie, and Boris finally at home together to enjoy a meal, yet can barely communicate with each other; Mr. Ryder distains the food Sophie has prepared and yet at the end of the novel is enamored of the relation-less lovely breakfast banquet following the morning of the big performance(s). Hmmm, how long will the mind ponder this one?? ( )
  MGADMJK | Aug 25, 2023 |
A brilliant concatenation of anxiety dreams as novel.(53) ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
Audiobook performed by Simon Vance
3***

From the book jacket: It is the story of a man named Ryder. He is a pianist of international renown who has arrived in a European city he cannot identify to give a concert he cannot remember agreeing to give. In the days before the concert, he is led in and out of the lives of seeming strangers, but his fleeting recollections of them and of his purpose among them are invariably overwhelmed by their inexplicable knowledge and expectations of him.

My reactions
Ishiguro is a brilliant writer, but this was a really challenging work. It is the stuff of dreams, or perhaps nightmares. People come and go, and Ryder (not to mention the reader) is left trying to puzzle out what is happening. He sets off with one purpose and gets waylaid time and again. As an example, one evening he goes to a movie, only to be introduced to a group of men who are playing cards and having loud arguments about local politics. Or he goes to a fancy dinner in his dressing gown and slippers. Or he’s in the middle of town and then driving for a long time into the countryside where he parks in a field, then enters a gallery which, he later discovers, is actually attached to his hotel (which is in the middle of town).

I was kept constantly off balance by these strange sequences. And really never did wrap my mind around whatever Ishiguro was trying to say. I appreciated the work more than I enjoyed it. And I’m not sure I would recommend it to most people I know.

I listened to a good portion of this on audio, narrated by the marvelous Simon Vance. But I think this is a book that is best tackled in text format, and I read about 30 percent of it rather than listen. ( )
  BookConcierge | Apr 12, 2023 |
About 100 pages in, i still enjoy his writing style but the story is just…… i don‘t know….. just no story…. A dream? Memories? ( )
  kakadoo202 | Apr 1, 2023 |
This book is mesmerizing and frustrating. It winds its way through a series of episodes which are largely trivial in themselves but cause continuous disruption to the plans of the protagonist. He seems unsure where he is or exactly what is there to do. He vaguely recognizes the people he meets and becomes caught up in their lives despite himself. There are clearly points around the messiness of relationships, the tragedy of misunderstanding that can last a lifetime and the hollowness of fame. This was a bit of a chore to read but the writing is wonderful.
  rosiezbanks | Jan 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (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)
 

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kazuo Ishiguroprimary authorall editionscalculated
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lorenz, IsabellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Lorna and Naomi
First words
The taxi driver seemed embarrassed to find there was no one - not even a clerk behind the reception desk - waiting to welcome me.
Quotations
‘To be perfectly fair, it’s not their fault. The modern forms, they’re so complex now. Kazan, Mullery, Yoshimoto. Even for a trained musician such as myself, it’s hard now, very hard. The likes of von Winterstein, the Countess, what chance do they have? They’re completely out of their depth. To them it’s just crashing noise, a whirl of strange rhythms. Perhaps they’ve convinced themselves over the years they can hear something there, certain emotions, meanings. But the truth is, they’ve found nothing at all. They’re out of their depth, they’ll never understand how modern music works. Once it was simply Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky. Even the man in the street could make a reasoned guess about that sort of music. But the modern forms! How can people like this, untrained, provincial people, how can they ever understand such things, however great a sense of duty they feel towards the community? It’s hopeless,
‘My own view is that Kazan never benefits from formalised restraints. Neither from the circular dynamic, nor even a doublebar structure. There are simply too many layers, too many emotions, especially in the later works.’
One should not, in any case, attempt to make a virtue out of one’s limitations.’
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Fiction. Literature. Humor (Fiction.) From the universally acclaimed author of The Remains of the Day comes a mesmerizing novel of completely unexpected mood and matter??a seamless, fictional universe, both wholly unrecognizable and familiar. When the public, day-to-day reality of a renowned pianist takes on a life of its own, he finds himself traversing landscapes that are by turns eerie, comical, and strangely malleab

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Book description
Haiku summary
What is happening?
They answered they did not know.
Ishiguro laughs.
(auldhouse)

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