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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Desai On Ishiguro

At the end of Anita Desai's long, descriptive review of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go in the NYRB, she takes issue with his decision to tackle the subject of cloning by placing fictional characters and events in a hypothetical future scenario:

"The vision Ishiguro creates of the factory farming of clones does indeed belong to the world of horror movies—and the nightmares of conservatives in government and church—but makes no mention of a far greater and more real horror, which is the trafficking in organs of donors in the desperately poor countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, compelled by their poverty to provide organs for which the first world with its obscene wealth can pay....Would a book that presented not a hypothetical concept but a reality be too much to tackle, for both writer and reader? Would such a truth be too overwhelming for such partners in fantasy to confront? Is it sufficient for fiction to create a pale, opaque screen to place between the reader and reality?"

Hmm. For a novelist to criticise another writer's novel in terms of characterisation, prose style and craft is commonplace; but to criticise the manner in which a novelist chooses to depict and dramatise his subject matter is unusual, to say the least.


  • That review gave away too much information about the book - I stopped halfway.

    Like your previous post says, novelists are really out to get each other these days :)

    By Anonymous Karthik, at 9:03 AM  

  • I agree - think someone should explain to Ms. Desai the difference between a review and a summary.

    For what it's worth, think she also misses the point of the book - having read the book, I certainly didn't get the impression that Ishiguro is trying to make a statement about cloning - I think he just uses that as a convenient plot device to make a point about the delusional nature of young dreams contrasted with the harsh realities of the real world.

    By Blogger Falstaff, at 9:37 AM  

  • Too long and too descriptive - and all she has to say is asking the author to write abt something she wants to read!

    By Blogger Veena, at 1:36 AM  

  • Too long, too descriptive: yes, completely agree. Interesting observation, Falstaff: though it may well be that cloning was more than a convenient plot device, but one of the best ways, in this day and age, to bring about the dreams/reality point.

    By Blogger PrufrockTwo, at 9:19 AM  

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