Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun

A Newberry Library Adult Education Seminar


This seminar will offer a three-part reading of Kazuo Ishiguro’s most recent novel, Klara and the Sun. The sequential format of reading and discussion will allow participants to explore and appreciate Ishiguro’s engaging yet challenging style as the novel unfolds its own exploration of technology, love, memory, neglect, and perception. We will also discuss excerpts from other contemporary writers and from other novels by Ishiguro as well as film adaptations of his work. Three sessions.

Materials List

  • Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Alfred A. Knopf (2021). ISBN 978-0-593-31817-1.
    Other materials will be made available to seminar participants.
  • For the first session, please read only “Part One” (pages 3-45).

Seminar Description

With the same kind of attention to sympathy as his earlier Never Let me Go, Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel challenges readers with a narrator who, we assume, is a machine. The seminar I propose splits the experience of reading Klara and the Sun into three parts, allowing participants to pause after reading only the first section, to take stock of what they have read, what they have felt, and how the first section of the novel propagates reading skills and sympathies that enhance an appreciation of the rest of the novel.
Widely read and well reviewed, Klara and the Sun asks readers to explore what it means to be human in a world where technology extends not only our capabilities but our perceptions. The novel invites us to consider how smart technology influences our sense of self, our experience of memory, and the necessary framework for sympathy—an understanding of another being’s inner life.


Yet the novel also immerses readers in a narrative schema that is by turns simplistic, convoluted, romantic, reserved, hallucinatory, and comforting. This seminar allows participants to spread out their reading of the novel with progressive discussions to explore how the interpretive work that Ishiguro’s prose asks the reader to perform is in fact a valuable experience of the novel’s main themes of sympathy, humanity, love, and loss.
Sessions will also include comparisons to other contemporary writers and to other novels by Ishiguro as well as film adaptations of his work.

Schedule

Week 1: To be read ahead of time: Part One (pages 3-45)
Week 2: Parts 2-3 (pages 49-177)
Week 3: Parts 4-6 (pages 181-303)

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