Books in Brief: November 2021

Klara and the Sun: A Novel, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf; 320 pp., $28.00). A conservative disposition imposes costs but limits downside surprises. If you always expect rain, you have to lug your umbrella around wherever you go. But you never get wet. Likewise, if you see life through a Menckenian lens, worstcase scenarios sometimes play out, but rarely as bad as originally feared. Kirkus Reviews recently hailed Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Klara and the Sun as a “haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.” Jaded Chronicles readers will more likely come away from the Nobel laureate’s latest work thinking, “One man’s dystopia is another man’s utopia.”

Ishiguro’s tale takes place in a future where parents buy robotic Artificial Friends (AFs), which are human simulacra almost indistinguishable from real people, to amuse their solitary, anxious homeschooled children. A lonely, terminally ill teen named Josie shopping with her mother at an AF store one day decides to take the book’s narrator, Klara, home as a companion. Unknown to both Josie and the endearingly naïve robot Klara, Josie’s controlling mother has planned all along for...

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