Klara and The Sun: Ishiguro’s new novel further explores what it means to be human
By Cristina Carvajal
In his masterpiece, Remains of the Day, the Nobel-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro explores the inner mind of Stevens, an English butler who, in the mid 1930’s, serves Lord Darlington, a man who is the midst of a Crusade to amend the Treaty of Versailles in favor of the Germans.
Caught up in his idealization of serving a good-hearted Lord, Stevens’ unreliable account of his days of serving Lord Darlington simultaneously seem heartbreakingly naive and carefully self-deceptive, giving the reader a glimpse of our complex humanity through the eyes of a narrator who, though he sees himself as merely an observer, does participate in the world-changing events surrounding his master by the merely act of existing. This echoes with the themes explored in Klara and the Sun, in which an A.F ( artificial friend) gains insight over humanity by virtue of her keen observation and, just as Stevens, participates in life just as fully even though she is not really meant to.
Klara and the Sun, the newest novel by Ishiguro, takes the themes he raised in Remains of the Day even further. Whereas Stevens’ narrator is full of wry observations and naive assumptions about who should participate and give their opinion about politics and war; Klara is an Artificial Friend with no knowledge of societal conventions or worldly affairs and whose opinion of love, rain and even the sun, is devoid of all filters and therefore absolutely and entirely genuine.
Through Stevens Ishiguro explored the lies we tell ourselves, the veil that we so often hide behind, the unreliability of our own experiences and the sad realization that most of our pain is entirely of our own making.
Through Klara Ishiguro tears the veil completely and exposes us for who we are, beings that want to love and be loved. Our desire for connection is so poignant that we even drag those who are meant to be bystanders into our midst; even a ‘perfect butler’ such as Stevens falls in love and regrets not pursuing it; an artificial friend such as Klara is capable of reciprocating love because we ourselves have shown it in all of its glory.