Literature: Recommendation – The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

By Bill

As of last Thursday, the UK had a new Nobel Literature laureate in the Japanese born, Kazuo Ishiguro. Although born abroad, he moved to England when he was five and has lived here ever since. He has written seven novels since 1982, with the most famous being the Booker prize winning The Remains of the Day and the 2005 bestseller, Never Let Me Go. What I’m going to recommend today is his most recent, and most atypical, novel, The Buried Giant.


“But then again, I wonder if what we feel in our hearts today isn't like these raindrops still falling on us from the soaked leaves above, even though the sky itself long stopped raining. I'm wondering if without our memories, there's nothing for it but for our love to fade and die.”

-The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro


I decided to recommend The Buried Giant because it is an anomaly in the literature world. For the most part, fantasy novels are considered lesser than their literary fiction cousins, however once in a blue moon, one comes a long that is able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the artistic best. Kazuo Ishiguro is famous as an author of literary fiction (in layman’s terms, ‘serious’) however, back in 2015, he released this ode to Arthurian legend.



The Buried Giant is set sometime after the death of King Arthur after the battles between the Germanic Saxons and the ‘Britons’ and features an elderly couple called Axl and Beatrice who believe they have a son somewhere close by and set off on a quest to find him. The problem is that in this land of mist and myth, people seem to forget anything that’s not immediately in front of them or happening currently. The couple think they have a son, but they can’t quite remember. Their quest to find their son takes in knights, ogres, dragons, and treacherous monks as they unearth the mystery of their landscape and the bloody history that no one can seem to remember.


“Nothing and yet everything had passed between us.”

-The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro


Although on the face of it, it seems like another fantasy in the guise of The Lord of the Rings, The Once and Future King, Game of Thrones or The Chronicles of Narnia, but it is actually a very clever examination of guilt, memory, and trauma, wrapped up in a delicious ‘swords and sorcery-esque’ fantasy. The reason I think any fantasy reader would love this, is because many fantasies aren’t always the best in terms of style and substance and are normally fun romps with magic, monsters, and great plot points … which is fine, but The Buried Giant is something different because it is written by one of the world’s most talented writers. The novel is one of the most atmospheric novels you will read and I can still conjure to mind the crumbling ruins, wooden Saxon villages, and swirling mists on rolling hillsides.



If you like reading, you will love The Buried Giant, it’s as simple as that. An extremely readable novel, that is a great entry point to fantasy literature, as well as the works of our new Nobel laureate, Kazuo Ishiguro.


Let me know your thoughts on Kazuo Ishiguro and whether you loved The Buried Giant as much as I did on Twitter @MugwumpBlog


Featured Image: Carrie May

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