Aur itibaren Zarechye, Tverskaya oblast', Rusya, 171100
Wow---this is easily the most subtle piece of dystopian literature I've read. That is, the dystopic and futuristic elements (cloning humans for organ harvesting) is at the same time central to the story, yet also in the background, with Ishiguro instead giving primacy to the intricacies of the complicated relationship between the three main characters, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy. The sci-fi/dystopic elements are not in-your-face like it is in other classics, like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Logan's Run or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. But speaking of Logan's Run, the one thing that kept nagging at me during the entire novel is how it never once crosses the mind of any of the Donors to rebel against the system and to run away. The Donors live among regular people, so how are they kept under tabs? What's to keep them from running away to preserve their own life? I suppose one possible explanation is that Hailsham, the boarding school for Donors, perfectly manages to indoctrinate these clones into understanding their lot in life. But that's a tough pill for me to swallow since I've always been a fan of the quote, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire" (William Butler Yeats). Thus, even if most students are successfully indoctrinated, surely there is one anti-conformist student out there? The one cog that won't quite fit into the well-oiled machinery of dystopic society--it is the premise of the whole dystopic genre! John from Brave New World, Offred from The Handmaid's Tale, D-503 from We, etc.... they all sought escape, and the demise of an unbearable status quo... The fact that Ishiguro bucks this literary convention seems to point to another unique feature of the book--it doesn't really belong to a clear genre. You could easily take out all the donor/organ harvesting stuff, and still have a pretty decent chunk of the main story remain intact: an in-depth look at the complicated relationship triangle between the main characters. This dramatic novel is also something of a coming-of-age story, since the characters are children/teens for most of the book. It's also a sci-fi/dystopic novel, although as I mentioned before, it doesn't really read like one since those elements are so subtle, but I don't mind the subtlety. It makes perfect sense when I think about who the author is. Ishiguro penned one of my favorite novels, The Remains of the Day, which is also another very subtle story, filled with unspoken truths and nuances. Overall, I enjoyed the novel--while I would have liked a more thorough treatment of topics such as cloning/organ harvesting/societal implications/the nature of the human soul/etc... I appreciate the book for what it is--a touching novel about innocence, loss, and hidden truths.