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The Unconsoled

The Unconsoled

Written by Kazuo Ishiguro

Narrated by Simon Vance


The Unconsoled

Written by Kazuo Ishiguro

Narrated by Simon Vance

ratings:
4/5 (17 ratings)
Length:
19 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 7, 2017
ISBN:
9781977371041
Format:
Audiobook

Description

From the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prize–winning novel The Remains of the Day, here is a novel that is at once a gripping psychological mystery, a wicked satire of the cult of art, and a poignant character study of a man whose public life has accelerated beyond his control.

The setting is a nameless Central European city where Ryder, a renowned pianist, has come to give the most important performance of his life. Instead, he finds himself diverted on a series of cryptic and infuriating errands that nevertheless provide him with vital clues to his own past. In The Unconsoled Ishiguro creates a work that is itself a virtuoso performance, strange, haunting, and resonant with humanity and wit.

Publisher:
Released:
Dec 7, 2017
ISBN:
9781977371041
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Kazuo Ishiguro nació en Nagasaki en 1954, pero se trasladó a Inglaterra en 1960. Es autor de ocho novelas –Pálida luz en las colinas (Premio Winifred Holtby), Un artista del mundo flotante (Premio Whitbread), Los restos del día (Premio Booker), Los inconsolables (Premio Cheltenham), Cuando fuimos huérfanos, Nunca me abandones (Premio Novela Europea Casino de Santiago), El gigante enterrado y Klara y el Sol– y un libro de relatos –Nocturnos–, obras extraordinarias que Anagrama ha publicado en castellano. En 2017 fue galardonado con el Premio Nobel de Literatura.


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What people think about The Unconsoled

3.8
17 ratings / 44 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    I'm having a hard time figuring out what to say about this book... It was boring and fascinating all at once. If I was reading it alone it wasn't uncommon for me to curse and yell at it in frustration. Some sections seemed to last forever, and others held my attention so deeply that I could read 100 pages just like that. I hated just about every character at least once, and then pivoted and really enjoyed them, or vice versa. Especially Ryder and Mr. Hoffman. All things considered, I'm quite glad I finished the book. As flawed as it is, it suited me. However, It's definitely not for everyone, and I would have a hard time recommending it to anybody else.
  • (3/5)
    Eh. Ishiguro manages to confound and bewilder as gently as sleep in this weird weird book. His prose is so clean and his emotional control of the reader so subtle I admire the book without much liking it. Not his best but an internally successful, if questionably intended, attempt.
  • (4/5)
    This book is like a horrible nightmare, only great.

    Nothing actually scary or horrible happens in this book but reading it made me feel vaguely creeped out and uncomfortable, anyway. The whole thing is like a bad dream, with incomprehensible geography, sudden appearances of ex-acquaintances and the general worry that you've forgotten something important all the way through it. It was actually quite hard work, but I'm glad I read it.
  • (4/5)
    (Original Review, 1995-12-12)I'm pretty respectful of other people's opinions and durable literary reputations. Reading Ulysses was bliss for me, but I have no harsh words for people who don’t like it. It is obviously something that has engaged reader’s minds, hearts, and souls, and perhaps more importantly influenced and engaged writers across generations, and I wish I could figure out why the rest of the world does not like it. As a reader one needs a little humility about one's little opinion, especially if it is “I like” or "I don't like".Poetry has been a long uphill battle for me, and I don't think I still get very well what many folks take to be its essence. Rhyme tends to annoy me, and I can barely hear meter, read or spoken, and saying 'the accumulation of hard consonants with contrasting soft vowels throughout the line creates and effect of ....' is usually rather meaningless to me, as personal experience. I don't mind puzzling out poetry, if I can, and have learned to love poetry, but for me, in general, it just has to make sense (that’s why I love the German Romantic Poets: Rilke, Hölderlin, etc.). If I have to go to an interpretive text fine, but if I think the interpretive text finds no better, or little better, sense in it than I do, I tend to think it is time to abandon said poetry. Sometimes the interpretive text outweighs the poetry itself. I enjoyed Bettina Knapp's discussion of Stein's "Tender Buttons", but find "Tender Buttons" itself unreadable. YouTube has made spoken poetry available on an unlimited scale, but still I prefer to read it. And one can also listen while reading the text (which is often my preference).I am shooting a little from the hip here, but my memories of Dylan Thomas poetry are that it is just incomprehensible to me, and since I personally have a hard time reading page after page of what is to me gibberish, I stopped reading it. "Milkwood" though, again from memory fumes, I remember as a grand work. I am a GREAT believer in individual sensory ratios AND that we can work on them if we choose rather than hunker down within our predispositions. I cannot tell how much reading the poetry I have read has enriched my life (a single person tipped me into it in midlife) and how making the effort to alter/overcome my own sensory/cognitive ratios/preferences, in so far as they succeeded, was very, very much worth the effort.Shakespeare is hard to generalize about because he is so singular. Once again, earlier in life I was tipped into it by a single individual, a college professor. I find that Shakespeare is simply different on the page than in the ear. I, like many people, can watch/hear a play and both understand what is going on and appreciate the language too. But to get deeper into it, for me anyway, I have to read it. Same thing with poetry. And of course it is not an either/or choice. One can, I must, do both, but especially read. And then the next time you see it, it is all the more wonderful.I wonder if the most adamant advocate of the ear doesn't rely on line by line reading to understand something like “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” I would bet 90% of such advocates DO perform, and rely on, such (multiple) readings.So really it just takes me around and back to what Literature is for me. I have to try to understand it so it makes sense to me, however quirky and subjective that sense is. When I read Ishiguro's “Unconsoled” it seemed to me to be an original and text book case of my theory of readership (which it helped immeasurably to evolve). If I could ask Ishiguro if he intended that at all, I’m sure he’d categorically say 'no'; that it was all about something else. But if I had to write a thesis about it, I would write what I still think of as its principle merit which is to have created and incarnate, in its protagonist, a conceptual double of a 'reading self', or “ones-self” as a reader. And that is how I approach literature; what would I say if I were writing a thesis on “Ode on a Grecian Urn” or “Milkwood?” And if I could write nothing because I didn't understand two words of it, then I tend to disregard it, while acknowledging there are valid approaches to 'pure abstract language' or the 'pure music of language'.What people say about poetry, I would say about Literature: it is a way of looking at the world that should inform you about the world and in the process surprise, delight and possibly change you and the way you look at the world. In a very real sense obliqueness is the enemy of true poetry. Which is why, in part, I tend to be dismissive of genre, but keeping in mind some genre writing transcends it. Genre writing is generally not: a way of looking at the world that should inform you about the world and in the process surprise, delight and possibly change you and the way you look at the world. Some prose texts are, some aren't. It's like 'verse' versus poetry.
  • (1/5)
    The first book in many a year that I failed to get into - discarded after about 50 pages. The book has the main character in a dream-like state - he doesn't quite remember where he is, and what he has to do. An interesting creation, and probably worth persisting with, if you have the endurance. But after checking reviews, I have decided that I am not going to get a lot more from the next 450 pages than I got from the first 50. So, put aside until I'm in traction and have run out of books.Not read Feb 2015.
  • (5/5)
    Disclaimer: I can vouch you will like The Unconsoled even more if you like When We Were Orphans. While Kazuo Ishiguro's latest release has weathered a gale of bashing reviews, The Unconsoled, released in 1995, seemed somehow overlooked by readers. If you do not like "When We Were Orphans", please do the author a favor and don't even touch the book, let alone making bashing comments on it. This book can be very frustrating.Keep this question in mind: Who is (are) unconsoled?In spite of the many layers and implications, the plot is delightfully straightforward and simple. Mr. Ryder (the protagonist and narrator), a world-renowned pianist, arrived in some European city he could not identify to give a performance he simply failed to recall agreeing to give. What followed was a finely tuned narrative that punctiliously chronicled Mr. Ryder's three eventful (but not necessarily productive) days in town. Upon his arrival at the hotel, the pianist encountered a diverse cast of townspeople who overwhelmed him with their inexplicable knowledge and inexorable expectations of him. Only when he out of politeness engaged in paltry conversations with them one by one did Ryder find himself stuck in their lives and their problems.Gustav was a respectable porter who determined to implement some personal measure in order to improve the overall image of porters in town. The old man asked Ryder to have a little word with his sulky daughter Sophie who had not spoken to him for years. Her son Boris was portrayed as though he was a lonely orphan (I wonder why?) who muttered to himself. The pianist then stumbled on to Hoffman, the hotel manager whose wife Christine had scrupulously kept a scrapbook full of Ryder's cuttings, even those that mentioned the pianist in passing. Stephen, Hoffman's 23-year-old son who always had such low esteem and thought his mediocre talent had let down his parents, asked Ryder to comment on his piano rehearsal for the big night opening recital. Hoffman himself constantly dreaded his marriage that turned cold and all that left behind was underlying tension. Brodsky, an ex-orchestra conductor, sought to rebuild his fame and reconcile with Miss Collins after being "drunken" for 20 years. The town saw its own crisis in cultural degradation as though Ryder was the only possible rescue. ... ...This book is meant to be humorous though the title might have suggested otherwise. Each of the characters, including Ryder, could recount dozens of sad incidences-how loneliness had blighted lives, how families despaired at the realization that they had taken happiness for granted. The town and its people (merely strangers really) ludicrously demanded more and more out of Ryder who hardly had a good sleep. At one point Ryder threatened to live the town at once and cancelled his speech and recital. It's hilarious that Ryder lost control over his schedule whenever he brushed shoulders with someone who would mutter their problems.Landscape and time are key in the novel. About a quarter into the book one would encounter rapid swerve of landscape (this can be annoying and confusing at first). Ryder might one-minute walk into the hotel atrium but quickly found him in a path that led to a wood. Landscape change as such occurred sparsely throughout the book enough to cause confusion. As I read on I realized these changes might have hinted at the many memory fragments Ryder had envisioned in his mind. Once you have persevered through the narrative that seemed to have rambled on so indecipherably, everything began to make sense. The actual time-span of the book was 4 days but Ryder recounted on a montage of memories that might have lasted years. The notion of time was warped repeatedly. A casual elevator conversation could stretch to an hour, drifted to far-gone memories and remote places. In the end, when the compelling prose manifested the threads between Ryder and all the people whose lives he was led in and out for the past few days, you can only appreciate and praise the raconteur in Kazuo Ishiguro.At this point, it's inappropriate of me to further comment on the novel as such comment will only spoil one's reading pleasure. The take home message of this review is that all the characters contribute significantly to the making of Ryder. Readers should never take each nuance lightly. Every meaning and gesture will add to the understanding of the book. The Unconsoled left behind many open ends that one would for sure have to wrestle with it. Ishiguro's writing once again proves he to be one of the finest prose stylists of our time. Engrossing read.
  • (3/5)
    Perhaps I shouldn't review this -- because I was unable to finish it (in fact I barely made it through the first third. Not, I hasten to add, because of any defect in the writing -- this is quite obviously the work of a master writer. The story reads like someone relating a dream, but this is a dream that goes on and on. As I do much of my reading in bed, prior to sleep, this book had a most peculiar and disturbing effect upon me -- the narrator's voice got into my head and I found myself continuing his story in my own dreams. I found this so distrubing, in fact, that I preferred to give up and try something less demanding. Perhaps I will try again, sometime.
  • (5/5)
    I became interested in this book and Kazuo Ishiguro because for three years I sat in my English teacher's classroom facing a poster advertising this book.When I finally got around to reading it I wasn't disappointed. The book is certainly an odd little read, given its surrealist elements, but somehow they all fit together and don't appear outlandish in the way that, say, Murakami's ideas sometimes do.The unraveling of events is a great ride and deciphering it all is particularly enjoyable; even if our main character isn't always the most likeable of persons. Despite the story's oddities I was very satisfied by the end and thought the novel an excellent read. I merely wish I had the time to re-read it and pick up more from the work.
  • (3/5)
    This book is not for the faint of heart...it is a long read at over 500 pages and its style is hard to grasp at times. A surrealistic novel, The Unconsoled takes on weighty themes. There are twists and turns and puzzles to sort out. But in the end, I found myself largely frustrated with the weirdness and unsatisfied with the characters (who are mostly self-centered and angst ridden).Not a book I could recommend to too many people.
  • (5/5)
    A horrible, haunting, work of genius, this book isn't right, isn't normal, and I'm sure it will stay with me forever.Let me try to explain. The book is halfway between a dream (or nightmare) and reality. It's the story of a composer arriving at in a town, having to give a performance that will rejuvinate the town, although he doesn't know where he is or when he agreed to it. That may make is sound like a mystery book of some sort, and I guess it is to some degree. The problem is that world is just not quite right. This is pretty hard to explain - it's a long, slow book. It's not quite surreal, but in that general ballpark, but it's pretty unique - you really have to read it to get the full picture. Some examples - doors connect to rooms even though they can't really be connected, relationships don't follow any logic, nightmare things happen (he exposes himself whilst giving a speech and nobody minds).I'm guessing I haven't really conveyed the essence of this book at all. Let me just say again that it is utterly unique, engaging, and yet left me feeling really horrible. Why is that a recommendation (it is intended as such)? Because sure the purpose of art is to make you feel - thats why, and surely it doesn't always have to be nice.
  • (5/5)
    I read this book nearly two years ago, but, in memory, it still exerts the resonant power that I felt from the second page of the text on to the final. Ishiguro has created a near perfect fictional analog of what it's like to experience the fantastic quality of the quotidian.Aside from Ryder, the narrator, all of the book's many characters emerge fully formed and, essentially, unchangable, on their first appearance. There's the worrywort, the bitter spouse, the cynic, the crusading idealist, the disapproving parents: stock characters of every stripe. And yet, somehow, these characters exist in a gelatinous world where everything is in flux. What changes, though, is Ryder's attitude towards one or the other of them -- in turns bored, angry, guilty, supercilious, unctuous. Although all of these characters are introduced as if they were strangers to Ryder, some of them apparently have some sort of history with him and others, even on brief acquaintance, assume an emotional signficance to him out of all proportion to their status in the "action." His contradictory, even schizophrenic, feelings are usually unexplained and unjustified; merely described, as if they're the most natural reactions in the world -- even if his attitude toward, say, the "young striver", is completely different on page 204 than it was on page 193.But here's the wonderful thing: Ryder's various states of mind always seem "right". They always correspond to instantly recongizable responses that we all experience every day when we deal with those exasperating characters from central casting known as "other people." Sometimes we yearn for them, sometimes we mourn for them, and sometimes we just wish they'd go away.Ishiguro has created a world which is at once patently unreal and uneasily real, both pathetically sad and absurdly funny.
  • (1/5)
    this is the most extraordinarily irritating book with one of the least likable 'heroes' i've ever come across... i am - literally! - struggling to push through to the end.
  • (1/5)
    Okay, it effectively evoked the feeling of a dream. A very frustrating dream, the kind I don't ever want to be reminded of again. I hated this book. I am only giving it a half star to be sure that my bad feelings about it are recorded for posterity. This is apparently the lowest rating available to me.
  • (1/5)
    I really wanted to like this book, as it was recommended reading, but found that I really couldn't. It was undoubtedly very clever and certainly succeeded in evoking the dream-like feeling that the author was looking to achieve; however it was a dream that I wanted to end. The characters were mostly self-indulgent and often more than a little arrogant - the types of people that you try to avoid at dinner parties or in the neighourhood - and yet I was subjected to one tedious monologue after another. It didn't take long to realise that the likelihood of any resolution to the plotline, or explanation of the chaos, would not be forthcoming. So frustrating!
  • (4/5)

    Ryder arrives in town and steps into a hotel, ready to check in. And that's the last ordinary thing that happens in The Unconsoled. Ishiguro's narrative gradually descends into something other than reality. First, it's subtle: Ryder seems oddly patient as the hotel bellhop gives an extended monologue about himself and the respect (or lack thereof) accorded to his profession. Time seems to move in fits and starts, as characters whose concerns seem only incidental to the central plot (which surely must be developing by now) elaborate at length about their lives. Ryder attempts to navigate through his day in a linear fashion -- after all, he's a very important person, a celebrity even, in town to prepare for a very important speech and performance -- but distraction piles upon diversion piles upon impediment, as the day and night stretch on.


    As Ryder experiences the people and events around him, mostly being pulled along, the narrative feels like a dream. Amazingly so, actually. Ishiguro captures the feeling of those anxiety dreams in which we know we have to be somewhere, do something, but there's no straight path between here and there, we can't seem to get there, and can't seem to keep our minds on it...


    I kept expecting to lose patience with The Unconsoled -- after all, how much of this unreality can one take before a certain longing takes hold for a linear plot, a sense of progression, of our protagonist actually doing things instead of having things done to him? Yet I found myself enjoying the book. I don't pretend to know what the author's intentions were, but by the end I was reflecting on this world full of people and how our lives intersect, each of us moving according to our own interests, desires and whims. What if we wore all those internal motivations on our sleeves, and explained them at great length? What if everyone did that, except for one poor visitor from some far away place?


    At the same time, Ishiguro seems to have had in mind a meditation on the nature of fame and celebrity. Ryder's reality and his very nature seem mutable, defined by the preconceptions of those around him, changing with each new encounter. What is left of Ryder but the public perception of the man?


    And there you have The Unconsoled. Twisting, dreamlike, frustrating, and ultimately, strangely rewarding.

  • (1/5)
    aggravating and awful, foggy and unclear, too long for its own good.
  • (5/5)
    This book was exhausting. Each of the characters lives in a bizarre social isolation such that they all interact without ever really seeing or paying attention to each other, so they bare their souls at each other in long, drawn out conversations, but most of these conversations are disjointed, since they are never really listening to each other. The main character is a famous pianist, though his seeming fame in the small town where he's arrived seems a bit overblown, and makes the whole town seem more pathetic and petty and small. Meanwhile the pianist, despite his vague disorientation on arriving in the town, seems to know a lot of the residents, from his childhood anyway, and he even has a girlfriend, though he seems not to remember at first that he even knows her. The whole book is like a dreamscape, in that the characters slip through doors that magically land them in totally different locations, and time passes a bit non-linearly, so that the few days the story spans seem like a lot longer. At over 500pgs, this is a tiring book, but it was still rather good.
  • (5/5)
    Lucid and addictive prose unfolds the wobbling, shimmering dream of a man who has lost control of his public life, and by extension his image and identity. Yes, this incredible novel is about the relationship of the individual to society, the nature and value of culture, and a mute attempt to remedy a pervasive but ineffable existential crisis; it's all of this, but what I'm surprised more people don't mention is that it's absolutely hilarious in places. Ishiguro nails the comedy of manners flawlessly, in a fashion both modern and timeless."An ox, an ox, an ox!"The first Ishiguro I've read. Close to perfection.
  • (4/5)
    This book took me two attempts to get through it. Although not the most enjoyable of Ishiguro's novels - being sucked deep into Ryder's dream / madness isn't a pleasant experience - it is undoubtedly a masterpiece, with delicate layers of meaning so finely crafted that you only notice them subconsciously.
  • (5/5)
    Compellingly painful book to read, it?s a bit like Godot on hormones. A surreal 48 hours spent with the most dysfunctional and needy community of neurotics, in an uncomfortable little German town where the normal rules of time & space are not being applie
  • (5/5)
    By far the most bizarre novel I've read in years. I really enjoyed it.
  • (4/5)
    I found The Unconsoled a challenging read, not that the prose is especially difficult, for it is not, but because of how long it took to become intelligible for me.The book is heavy on dialogue and for the first couple of hundred pages at least I was irritated with the length of the spoken passages and how unrealistic they seemed. Every conversation is one sided and uses a hundred words of trivia where ten would not only suffice but be normal in real world usage. Let's be honest, if someone was droning on at you repeatedly in such a way, you'd drift off, look for any excuse to get away, and so it was in the reading of the early passages, and yet the urge to be patient, and to persevere was also strong and eventually it became clearer that this was indeed a purposeful feature of the substance of the story, not merely the style of the writing.The early apparently amnesic state of confusion of the central character, Mr Ryder, a world renowned concert pianist, was bemusing, he not seeming to know where he was or why, yet recognising small details and memories, though seemingly unable or unwilling to simply ask anyone the obvious questions to give him the answers, drifting from one frustrating situation to another.Then other characters appear without explanation of their familial relationship to Ryder, and it takes some time for these ties (wife, father in law, son) to become apparent.Once evident however, together with other, often Freudian, clues too bizarre to be real, with illogical shifts in time and space, the true dreamlike nature of the writing becomes tangible and very slowly the story begins to have meaning.I interpreted the book as being a combination of dream and conscious states, seamlessly interwoven so as to be impossible to tell them apart, dealing with the fears of a man used to being independent and in total control of his affairs, developing alter ego characters as mere representations of himself such as Stephan, his younger self desperate to impress the most demanding of parents, and the misunderstood, drunken, Brodsky being what he would fear he may become should he lose control or slip from his pedestal. Then, not untypical of certain successful yet often lonely people there is subconscious envy of the common man with his simpler life, yet even those situations are convoluted with Ryder's own sense of his status and self importance.In the final stretch of the book everything starts to unravel and all of the stresses and strains of dealing with the domestic constraints of marriage and fatherhood, of demands placed on his time and energy through being a celebrity back on home turf, painful adolescent memories stirred and fear of failure, are blissfully and dreamily washed away as Ryder nears his departure for his next engagement in far off Helsinki.My experience of reading The Unconsoled is that I very nearly gave up on it after in the first third and would have struggled to rate it a one or two stars, in the middle section the narrative solidified, characters and relationships crystalising with the dream sequences now making more sense yet I was at times aghast at how much more of the book was still to read, and yet in the final third I had to reevaluate everything that had come before and started to enjoy the book only to find myself surprisingly, and gratefully, satisfied with the finale and conclusion.Days after finishing The Unconsoled I found myself pondering the experience fondly and it could have been so different had Ishiguro failed to pull and tie the threads together so tightly in the end, or had I elected follow my inclination to bail out at half time, and so I elevated my rating from 3 to 4 stars.
  • (4/5)
    The end is not really how I wanted it to be, but it was thrilling reading the book, never really knowing what's going on ^^
  • (2/5)
    Too much the product of creative writing courses, Ishiguro spins a purposeless prose - so tightly constrained even in its Kafkaesque fantasy (where ordinary boundaries of time and space dissolve). Churning through over 500 pages left me decidedly 'unconsoled'.
  • (3/5)
    There are those who consider this book a masterpiece, there are those who loathe it, and there are those who find it intriguing but overlong. I'm in the latter camp.
  • (5/5)
    When I first read, "Remains of the Day", I felt that I had just read the consummate English novel, the perfect pinnacle of a mountain with E.M. Forrester, among others, in its foundation. I felt The Unconsoled was also perfect, but in the way that it kept me maddeningly entwined in a dream that is insane. Insane in the way it provides a complete framework for the mind, yet no sense.I remain in awe of this book.
  • (4/5)
    I'm glad so many reviewers have enjoyed this novel. I've just finished it and have regraded it as a four rather than a three star read. It was, as people have already said, full of pathos and humour (Bruno was "the greatest dog of his generation!")and sucked me deeper and deeper into Ryder's world with every page, from the 'Is he dreaming? He must be dreaming!' feeling of the first chapter, through to not wanting him to wake and the dream to end at the finish. This is the second Ishiguro I've read, and like the previous one (Remains of the Day) it's left me wanting to read it again, immediately. Perhaps I'll give it five stars next time.
  • (1/5)
    Too long, self-indulgent. I get it. But I am not going to finish it because, so far, it is simply more of the same. Verbosity is not a crime, but it is when it shows no sign at all of getting to the point. Ishiguro needs an editor.
  • (4/5)
    I just finished this book. I did not read the cover. I should have. I became so frustrated while reading it. I was telling a friend of mine about the bizarre time and distance problems, and the character's relationships to each other. She said that it sounds like a dream to me. It was revelation to me. I just read the cover and the other reviews here on Library Thing. Dreams all right, very very strange dreams. I can't believe that none of the reviewers mentioned the story of Gustav and his comrades in the Hungarian Cafe. This is a wonderful story of honor and courage. His friends and grandson saw him as invincible and he had so much courage and determination he did not let them down even though it led to his death. For me, Gustav is the hero of the story. That story made all of the pain and frustration of reading the book very worthwhile. It just too bad he had such a bad relationship with his daughter.
  • (3/5)
    I bailed out about half-way through. Scene after scene in which nothing happens to move the narrative forward. Apparently the guy was in dream.