SELENE PAXTON-BROOKS looks at Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2015 magical/folk horror The Buried Giant
To all intent and purposes, this is an ancient folktale written in modern times. What;s more, it’s written by a Japanese man who moved to Britain when he was five and rings of traditional English tales about King Arthur, dragons, magic and faerie folk who live in our realms and are little written about today. Saying that, this is a gentle story – there is no rush, and Ishiguro seems determined to weave a mist of remembering ancient oral tales, as well as mists of forgetting.
This is the story of lovers; not the young foolish sort, but of many unremembered years, who set out on a journey to find their son. Theirs is a magical land, set not long after Arthur, King of England, dies, and at a time of upheaval between the Britons and Saxons, Christians and Pagans.
On their journey they meet evil ogres, a determined warrior, a boy with a strange bite mark, an aging knight, rebellious monks, a demon dog, a horde of water pixies and a poisonous goat, to name but a few. They end up joining the search for Querig, the she-dragon who breathes a magical fog that makes the people of the land forget their dreadful pasts, before departing to an island of spirits, who walk alone without their loved ones.
So what is this book really about, I hear you ask? Well, actually it is about love and peace in a world where both are hard to find. At times, it is truly moving and thought provoking – why do we do the things we do and what are our motives? The magical elements are right out of English and Irish folklore, but there are no giants here – for the giant is much more than that!
So would I recommend it? That all depends on whether you want a gentle read that takes you back in time, to a land with hints of magic, that makes you question what ‘love’ really is. If not, then it is not for you!
As with his other books, Ishiguro slowly unleashes his ideas, but mostly he makes you question what you are reading. There is nothing really scary or frightening here, unless of course you count the trials and tribulations of everyday life. There is a little magic in all of us … isn’t there?
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