“The sun always has ways to reach us.”
It is difficult to write about ‘Klara and the Sun’ without giving too much away about the story. Basically, it is about Klara and her life. We get to know Klara in a robot store together with many artificial beings where she is available for sale.
Klara later becomes the artificial friend of Josie, a teenage girl. Josie lives together with her divorced mother in a fancy, modern house and Melania, their housekeeper. One day Klara is brought into Josie’s home and will stay there.
What is special about the story? It is told by Klara, an artificial human. Everything is told from her perspective in her own manner. Everything is new to Klara. How will she be integrated into human society? How is everyone treating Klara, and how is this affecting her thinking, feelings, and actions?
It is not clear if the story takes place today or in the near future. I do not know about the newest technology, and what today’s robots are capable of. It is not so relevant, because the story raises ethical questions. I think bottom line it is about ethics: How do we deal with one another personally as humans. How do we define life? Where does consciousness begin? How do we behave towards artificial intelligence?
Similar questions were raised in numerous sci-fi movies. I am a big fan of Star Trek Next Generation and was reminded of Data, the beloved android. I think also of the replicants in the Blade Runner-movies. Artificial life is also a topic in literature, from Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ to ‘Machines like me’ by Ian McEwan.
I liked ‘Klara and the Sun’ very much. It took me a while to get used to the writing style, and to the way Klara sees everything. She finds her own expressions to describe the world. Sometimes it is funny, when she sees a ‘dog lead woman’, ‘headset walkers’ or ‘pedal cyclists’.The narrative shows a consistent narrative style from the perspective of Klara: her language and her way of observation.
The novel is interesting. There are almost no lengths in the narrative. The plot development is stringent and logical. The story of Klara is very touching and sad. ‘Klara and the Sun’ is no light novel. It reads lightly, but all in all it is a classical drama.
Kazuo Ishiguro wrote several books about many topics. I have read ‘When We Were Orphans’, which is one of my all-time favorite, and his novel about an ukiyo-e artist ‘Artist of the Floating World’. Kazuo Ishiguro has proved his writing skills again with ‘Klara and the Sun’.
Kazuo Ishiguro: Klara and the Sun. Knopf, 2021 (Cover).