June 30th, 2015
The Short Take:
This intriguing, challenging, unexpected novel from the rightly-renowned Ishiguro contains knights, ogres, and a dragon. However don’t let those fantasy elements mislead you. This book is all about ourselves, our history, and our memories.
Ishiguro writes in a straight-forward manner, in this case using the rather formal dialogue you might anticipate in Medieval England, that his underlying message hits you all the harder.
Under the guise of describing the journey of an elderly couple to join the son they barely remember, this novel confronts both individual and society’s willingness to forget the past in order to face the future. It ponders how war begets war as people fight to avenge earlier violent deaths. Powerful stuff.
Yet, because the story wraps around this couple and their deep devotion to each other, these messages are swathed in a gentleness — not unlike the mysterious mist that is clouding everyone’s memory in this mythical England.
The Hidden Giant is not the buried monster our couple are careful not to trod on, it is the past.
A Little Plot:
Britons Axl and Beatrice believe they may have a son who lives in a nearby village and resolve to go see him. Their memories are uncertain however, the same as everyone else in their village — and their country.
Along the way they encounter a mighty Saxon warrior who claims a peaceful mission, a boy bitten by a beast, and Sir Gawain of King Arthur’s now-gone court. Each has a mission, but what they may be continues to evolve.
I didn’t immediately find a website for Ishiguro, but there’s plenty out the about him and this book.