The Buried Giant (Vintage International)
March '15 Indie Next List
— Rick Simonson, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
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In post-Arthurian Britain, the wars that once raged between the Saxons and the Britons have finally ceased. Axl and Beatrice, an elderly British couple, set off to visit their son, whom they haven't seen in years. And, because a strange mist has caused mass amnesia throughout the land, they can scarcely remember anything about him. As they are joined on their journey by a Saxon warrior, his orphan charge, and an illustrious knight, Axl and Beatrice slowly begin to remember the dark and troubled past they all share.
By turns savage, suspenseful, and intensely moving, The Buried Giant is a luminous meditation on the act of forgetting and the power of memory.
Praise For The Buried Giant (Vintage International)…
“An exceptional novel. . . . The Buried Giant does what important books do: It remains in the mind long after it has been read, refusing to leave.” —Neil Gaiman, The New York Times Book Review
“Lush and thrilling, rolling the gothic, fantastical, political, and philosophical into one.” —The New Republic
“Mesmerizing. . . . A provocative, multilayered mosaic. . . . Lifetimes of myth, allegory, and epic discoveries are contained within.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“A literary tour de force so unassuming that you don't realize until the last page that you're reading a masterpiece.” —USA Today
“Splendid. . . . Excellent. . . . The Buried Giant is a simple and powerful tale of love, aging and loss.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Ishiguro is a master of the uncanny. . . . Few write about the mysteries of the human experience with such grace as Ishiguro, and his prodigious gifts are evident throughout the novel.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Devastating . . . As emotionally ruinous an ending as any I’ve read in a very long time, and it made me circle back to the opening pages, to re-enter the strange mist of this sad and remarkable book.” —Mark O’Connell, Slate
“A profound meditation on trauma, memory, and the collective lies nations and groups create to expiate their guilt.” —The Boston Globe
“If forced at knife-point to choose my favorite Ishiguro novel, I’d opt for The Buried Giant. It uses the tropes of fantasy to set up a smoke-screen which the book then, by twists and turns, dispels. This reveal gives the book a shadow-plot, and layers of mystery . . . An ideas-enabler, a metaphor-animator.” —David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks
“Ishiguro is a deft gut-renovator of genres, bringing fresh life and feeling to hollowed-out conventions. . . . The love story at its center shimmers with a mythic and melancholy grace.” —Vulture
“A beautiful, heartbreaking book about the duty to remember and the urge to forget.” —The Guardian (London)
“Powerful and disturbing. . . . Provokes strong emotions—and lingers long in the mind.” —The Economist
“A beautiful fable with a hard message at its core. . . . There won’t, I suspect, be a more important work of fiction published this year than The Buried Giant.” —John Sutherland, The Times (London)
“A novel of imaginative daring that, in its subtleties of tone, mood and reflection, could be the work of no other writer. . . . In the manner of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Ishiguro has created a fantastical alternate reality in which, in spite of the extremity of its setting and because of its integrity and emotional truth, you believe unhesitatingly.” — Financial Times
Vintage, 9780307455796, 336pp.
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
1. In Chapter Two, Axl and Beatrice have an uncomfortable encounter with a boatman and an old woman. Discuss the significance of this interaction. How did you interpret the woman’s odd behavior? How does this meeting with the boatman echo throughout the novel?
2. When Beatrice and Axl visit the Saxon village, Ivor apologizes for the fact that his community set on them like “crazed wolves” (59). At what other points in the novel is human behavior described as animalistic?
3. How does Edwin’s memory of his mother change throughout the novel? Discuss the incident in which he is stuck in the barn. How does his mother’s voice act as a protective force? How much of his recollection of his mother do you think is accurate versus fabricated?
4. Discuss the themes of trust and deception throughout The Buried Giant. How does the mist cause distrust between people? At what points do we see doubt creep into Axl and Beatrice’s relationship? Their relationships with other characters?
5. Several characters are described as “warriors.” What values or traits are intrinsic to this label? How does honor factor into a warrior’s conduct?
6. Gawain leads Beatrice, Axl, and Edwin through an underground tunnel from the monastery that they had believed to be a place of refuge. Why do you think each character sees different things during their trek? Do you think the brutality described in this scene is imagined?
7. Beatrice and Axl have a horrifying experience while trying to ford a river. Discuss this scene, and the grotesque descriptions within it. What is the significance of Axl’s interaction with the woman on the boat? Why do you think Beatrice’s memory is so greatly affected during this scene? What does this part of their journey reveal about their relationship?
8. Axl and Beatrice’s relationship is marked by tenderness and mutual affection throughout the novel. Were you surprised by the revelation? How did you interpret their final interactions in the last chapter of the novel?
9. Why do you think Ishiguro chose to have the final chapter of the book come from the perspective of the boatman?