Wednesday, September 24, 2008

BOOK: A Pale View of Hills by Kazou Ishiguro

A Pale View of Hills by Kazou Ishiguro, 183 pages

1% well read, Japanese literature challenge

I'm fudging things a bit to use this for the Japanese literature challenge, as although Ishiguro was born in Japan, he moved to England as a young child. This book does take place for the most part in Japan, so I am going to count it.

The first novel written by Ishiguro has his signature beautiful writing. His writing matches the way my head thinks, so I find his writing very easy to get absorbed into. His sparse style tells so much more than you would expect. There isn't much in the line of plot here - Etsuko's younger daughter arrives at her English countryside cottage after the suicide of Keiko, the elder daughter. The mother is sent into a remembrance of a particular time of her life in Nagasaki, newly married after the war and the bomb and a friendship with an unusual neighbour in the months before her daughter is born. The neighbour, Sachiko and her young daughter Mariko are preparing to leave Japan with Sachiko's American boyfriend. For some reason, this time was important to Etsuko, even though other important information about her life and how she ended up in England with a different husband is never really told.

I enjoyed this slow meandering read and the view of life in Japan as life was changing there after the war. I wasn't always clear what the characters were about and their interactions, but an interesting passage near the end had me sitting up and rereading a page or so and blinking my eyes. Ishiguro is a great writer, and this book would be interesting for a group read, as there are some interpretations required to decide upon at the end.


  1. I love Ishiguro, so I will have to read this one, thanks for the review. You are doing well on the 1% challenge, I am falling a bit behind in my book a month timetable.

  2. What a lovely review! I've not read any of his work, but you certainly made me perk up and take notice with the ending. I have Never Let Me Go on my Japanese Lit list...didn't realize I was sort of cheating there.

  3. redheadramble - I'm not quite at one per month for that challenge, but it's a harder one to keep on my radar. There's a couple more Ishiguro on the lsit.

    debi - thanks, it was quiet, but powerful. I only thought it was cheating, because he is so very British. To have written Remains of the Day shows he is def. from England. This one was set in Japan mostly though.
    I don't think it matters, he was born in Japan, and you should read that book for sure!

  4. I love Ishiguro, but I absolutely hated A Pale View of Hills. I think it was the kitten drowning that really ticked me off.

  5. bookfool - the kittens, yes, not pretty. Especially after the ending, it changes that part of the story completely.
    Pretty impressive for a first novel.

  6. I don't think I'm interested in this novel, but I really enjoyed two others by Ishiguro. He definitely has a talent of slowly drawing us in, doesn't he?


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