The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
A novel

67%

43 Critic Reviews

The Buried Giant, however, falters in the execution. The narrative lacks any sense of imperative, of forward motion...Loaded with portents and symbolism, gestures toward arching themes and significant resonances, The Buried Giant feels like it’s struggling to be significant, aching to be profound.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

From the author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day
 
The Romans have long since departed and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But, at least, the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased. Axl and Beatrice, a couple of elderly Britons, decide that now is the time, finally, for them to set off across this troubled land of mist and rain to find the son they have not seen for years, the son they can scarcely remember. They know they will face many hazards—some strange and otherworldly—but they cannot foresee how their journey will reveal to them the dark and forgotten corners of their love for each other. Nor can they foresee that they will be joined on their journey by a Saxon warrior, his orphan charge, and a knight—each of them, like Axl and Beatrice, lost in some way to his own past, but drawn inexorably toward the comfort, and the burden, of the fullness of a life’s memories.

Sometimes savage, sometimes mysterious, always intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade tells a luminous story about the act of forgetting and the power of memory, a resonant tale of love, vengeance, and war.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Kazuo Ishiguro

See more books from this Author
Kazuo Ishiguro is the author of five previous novels, including The Remains of the Day, which won the Booker Prize and became an international best seller. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages. In 1995 he received an Order of the British Empire for service to literature, and in 1998 was named a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.
 
Published March 3, 2015 by Vintage. 353 pages
Genres: History, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Mar 22 2015
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Buried Giant
All: 43 | Positive: 29 | Negative: 14

Kirkus

Excellent
on Dec 22 2014

A lyrical, allusive (and elusive) voyage into the mists of British folklore...The premise of a nation made up of amnesiac people longing for meaning is beguiling, and while it opens itself to heavy-handed treatment, Ishiguro is a master of subtlety...Lovely: a fairy tale for grown-ups, both partaking in and departing from a rich literary tradition.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Mar 14 2015

The gift of remembering, as it turns out, will come at a steep price, not for the two aging and kindhearted Britons but for their country. The Buried Giant is a slow, patient novel, decidedly unshowy but deliberate and precise—easy to read but difficult to forget.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Neil Gaiman on Feb 25 2015

Fantasy and historical fiction and myth here run together with the Matter of Britain, in a novel that’s easy to admire, to respect and to enjoy, but difficult to love. Still, “The Buried Giant” does what important books do: It remains in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave, forcing one to turn it over and over.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Feb 23 2015

Here, however, the result is an ungainly fable that reflects none of Mr. Ishiguro’s myriad and subtle gifts.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Nicholas Lezard on Jan 27 2016

It all heads to a sad and desperate conclusion, and, in common with the best examples of the genre, connives to unravel its own world.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Anthony Cummins on Jan 24 2016

I most felt the novel’s emotional clout in its portrait of a marriage with hints of past wrongdoing, forgotten in the fog or as a matter of convenience: a fragile settlement of its own, like love despite itself.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Tom Holland on Mar 04 2015

The novel’s parting assurance is affecting precisely because it is so hard-won: “But God will know the slow tread of an old couple’s love for each other, and understand how bleak shadows make part of its whole.”

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Alex Preston on Mar 01 2015

Focusing on one single reading of its story of mists and monsters, swords and sorcery, reduces it to mere parable; it is much more than that. It is a profound examination of memory and guilt, of the way we recall past trauma en mass... a beautiful, heartbreaking book about the duty to remember and the urge to forget.

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NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Michael Levin on Mar 02 2015

If you want to read a truly great novel, go get Remains of the Day. Even if you’ve seen the movie, which was wonderful, the novel is even better. In short, I come not to praise The Buried Giant, but to bury it. Alas.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Mar 05 2015

This time round, Ishiguro serves up a masterful blend of fantasy, Arthurian romance, myth, legend and postmodern absurdity...This is yet another radiant and deeply moving Ishiguro riff on loss and the tragic nature of life. It'd pay at the tribute of saying that as a novel, it's unforgettable.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Meg Wolitzer on Mar 04 2015

Kazuo Ishiguro is a brilliant writer with distinct and compelling preoccupations that have worked for him in the past. And there might be a powerful novel in all this mythic material, but I couldn't quite find it.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on Feb 28 2015

But Axl and Beatrice also have forgotten the harm they’ve done to each other and to their marriage...This devotion is the thread winding through the story...The progress is slow, however, and the journey is one whose pleasures and perils are not for the faint of heart or the easily distracted.

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Star Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on Feb 27 2015

Whether this is enough is what Ishiguro asks us to consider...The progress is slow, however, and the journey is one whose pleasures and perils are not for the faint of heart or the easily distracted.

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Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jason Cowley on Feb 27 2015

You might forget certain details about what happens in them or individual characters but never their mood or atmosphere, as anyone who reads The Buried Giant will discover.

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Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Claire Hopley on Apr 02 2015

Readers may admire this novel; many indeed will feel that its oddity demands a second or third reading. With or without such revisiting, it is a novel that solicits respect rather than love, and is likely to garner admiration for its prose and its ambition rather than affection for the experience it delivers.

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LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by David L. Ulin on Feb 27 2015

In the hands of, say, T.H. White or George R.R. Martin, this could be (has been) a vivid set of conflicts, played out on an epic stage. "The Buried Giant," though, is too thin, too narrow in its vision, to achieve that sort of scope. Rather, it feels constrained, not fully imagined...

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Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Peter Norman on Mar 06 2015

Once its spell takes hold, The Buried Giant is vivid, tense, thoughtful and moving – and entirely worthy of Ishiguro’s formidable oeuvre.

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The Economist

Good
on Feb 28 2015

So described, this novel seems so simple it might be cleanly slipped into the genre marked “fantasy”. But Mr Ishiguro’s work is never simple. He has always been a trickster...exploring the novel’s form, and this new book is no exception. His language is plain and clear. But the stories he tells with his clean words are powerful and disturbing.

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Toronto Star

Below average
Reviewed by Robert Wiersema on Mar 01 2015

The Buried Giant, however, falters in the execution. The narrative lacks any sense of imperative, of forward motion...Loaded with portents and symbolism, gestures toward arching themes and significant resonances, The Buried Giant feels like it’s struggling to be significant, aching to be profound.

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Entertainment Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Melissa Maerz on Mar 05 2015

But when the mist leads the foursome to battle a literal dragon, Giant becomes something less magical: a standard fairy tale that grants the hero’s wish.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Arifa Akbar on Feb 26 2015

This is a novel that does not answer every question it raises about war, love, memory; but it doesn't have to. It takes us on a journey that is as deep as it is mesmerising, ogres an' all.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Tim Martin on Mar 05 2015

Ishiguro has written striking period pieces in the past, but it’s clear that finding a register for The Buried Giant was difficult: he apparently binned an earlier draft, full of ye-olde quirks of style and address, after his wife told him that it “just wouldn’t do”. That comment haunted me through this affectless fantasia...

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by Terry Hong on Mar 03 2015

Ishiguro’s 10-year investment comes to eloquent fruition here. The result is a provocative, multilayered mosaic.

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Booklist Online

Good
Reviewed by Joanne Wilkinson on Jan 01 2015

Ishiguro’s story is a deceptively simple one, for enfolded within its elemental structure are many profound truths, including its beautiful and memorable portrait of a long-term marriage and its subtle commentary on the eternity of war, all conveyed in the author’s mesmerizing prose.

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Paula McLain on Mar 02 2015

This is precisely the sort of probing that lies at the core of Ishiguro’s wise and bewitching The Buried Giant. “[W]hat good’s a memory returning from the mist,” Axl asks Beatrice, “if it’s only to push away another?”

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Robert Weibezahl on Mar 10 2015

Like much of Ishiguro’s work, The Buried Giant is about the clouds of memory, our human imperfections and our unresolved pasts. It is a welcome return by one of our most subtle, thought-provoking novelists.

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Tor

Above average
Reviewed by Niall Alexander on Mar 03 2015

A minor work by a modern master it may be, but at its best, when Ishiguro dispenses with the classical fantasy trappings that serve to obfuscate what’s good and true about this book, The Buried Giant is brilliant.

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Express

Good
Reviewed by Vanessa Berridge on Feb 27 2015

At the core of a strange and haunting novel is the deep affection between Axl and Beatrice which withstands all the tests they face.

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Slate

Good
Reviewed by Mark O'Connell on Mar 07 2015

The Buried Giant unfolds its story and its implications slowly and subtly...and my grip on the book sometimes slackened in the middle section. But it builds, in its final third, toward what might be described as a devastating anti-climax—the sort of conclusion you don’t realize you’ve been expecting all along until you’ve encountered it.

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The Miami Herald

Good
Reviewed by Ellen Kanner on Feb 27 2015

The novel’s mythical beasties are but window dressing and a little bit of plot device. It is no spoiler to say the buried giant of the title is more powerful than any fantastical creature. It is something altogether human. It is memory, personal and collective, blessing and curse.

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The National

Above average
Reviewed by James Kidd on Mar 05 2015

The mood of uncertainty creates a weird narrative friction as a seemingly concrete linear present begins to look more and more unstable. This owes less to overt drama, though there are some vigorous action sequences, than questions of identity.

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Chicago Tribune

Below average
Reviewed by Charles Finch on Feb 26 2015

Still, it's not his strongest subject, and as a result "The Buried Giant" isn't his strongest work. Its action is too pointedly moralistic, and the author's unique, weightless prose is more effective when he's dealing in personal rather than in civic memory.

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Irish Times

Below average
Reviewed by EILEEN BATTERSBY on Feb 28 2015

So is this cautionary, half-hearted novel that is not quite a fairy tale, not quite a fantasy. Instead it dangles unconvincingly somewhere between the two.

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Paste

Above average
Reviewed by Jeff Pearson on Mar 03 2015

Ishiguro is careful to balance the influence that this type of world can have on his characters, however, straying from a strict fantasy-adventure story through his continued emphasis on what it is to be human—no matter the place or time.

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The Australian

Above average
Reviewed by Tegan Bennett Daylight on Mar 07 2015

The effect is a feeling of deep involvement with the text — you grapple with it as it grapples with you. It’s exhilarating.

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The American Book Center Blog

Below average
Reviewed by JeroenW on Mar 06 2015

The resolution of our main characters’ problems seems rather abrupt, because I felt that at the end we had only begun to dive into what makes them tick. That being said, a less-than-stellar Ishiguro novel is still a good read, and I recommend it everyone, ogrephobic or not.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Safa Jinje on Mar 03 2015

Ishiguro’s turn to fantasy is a pleasant surprise, but like Never Let Me Go—a dystopian science fiction novel about the lives of clones, created for the express purpose of donating their vital organs to their “normal” counterparts—this new novel transcends its genre to ask larger questions that deal with the frailty of humankind...

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http://skrishnasbooks.com

Below average
Reviewed by Swapna Krishna on Mar 04 2015

Should you read this? It’s hard for me to say. I love Kazuo Ishiguro, so I’m glad I spent time with The Buried Giant, even if I was disappointed with the ending. The author does an excellent job with the dreamlike tone of the novel...

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Chrisbookarama

Good
Reviewed by Chris bookarama on Mar 03 2015

I loved Kazuo Ishiguro’s writing, even though it made me blue. The tenderness of Axl and Beatrice for each other was one of the things I enjoyed the most.

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The Mookse and the Gripes

Below average
Reviewed by Trevor Berrett on Mar 05 2015

The themes and style seemed half-baked. It’s a shame, as I do think the potential for more is there. And maybe it is there, and I just need time to see it.

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Bite the Book

Good
Reviewed by Jon Page on Mar 04 2015

When you get down to the nuts and bolts of this story it is the classic journey. A journey into a great unknown. A journey into memory and love. It is a post-Arthurian tale that is perfectly apt for this post-9/11 world where the peace and harmony has been built on tenuous foundations.

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https://theasylum.wordpress.com

Above average
on Mar 07 2015

It is a book that will be discussed and that will endure, and it has the rare feel of a publishing event which is also a literary event.

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http://wamc.org

Above average
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Mar 05 2015

This is yet another radiant and deeply moving Ishiguro riff on loss and the tragic nature of life. It'd pay at the tribute of saying that as a novel, it's unforgettable. But as Ishiguro sadly tells us, that's only wishful thinking.

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Reader Rating for The Buried Giant
67%

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