Reviews

Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

A fascinating novel about England by a Japanese-born English novelist. The narrative centers on Stevens, an aging English butler, and his solitary drive westward across the English countryside. It is a journey through his memory as well, and Stevens, who has so far structured his life around the meticulous details of caring for his uppre-class employers' comfort, gradually begins to confront the essential hollowness of his long life and the self-deception that has sustained him through it. Sad and humorous, this book is as much a haunting story about an ordinary man's heightened self-knowledge--which liberates as well as horrifies him--as it is a hilarious critique of the English class system and the uncertainties of postimperial Britain. Ishiguro, who has the advantage of being simultaneously a cultural insider and an observant outsider, projects a vision of English life that is affectionate as well as deftly ironic. Recommended for graduate and undergraduate students of English studies and general readers, this novel has just been awarded the prestigious Booker Prize in Britain. -E. S. Nelson, SUNY College at Cortland


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Greeted with high praise in England, where it seems certain to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Ishiguro's third novel (after An Artist of the Floating World ) is a tour de force-- both a compelling psychological study and a portrait of a vanished social order. Stevens, an elderly butler who has spent 30 years in the service of Lord Darlington, ruminates on the past and inadvertently slackens his rigid grip on his emotions to confront the central issues of his life. Glacially reserved, snobbish and humorless, Stevens has devoted his life to his concept of duty and responsibility, hoping to reach the pinnacle of his profession through totally selfless dedication and a ruthless suppression of sentiment. Having made a virtue of stoic dignity, he is proud of his impassive response to his father's death and his ``correct'' behavior with the spunky former housekeeper, Miss Kenton. Ishiguro builds Stevens's character with precisely controlled details, creating irony as the butler unwittingly reveals his pathetic self-deception. In the poignant denouement, Stevens belatedly realizes that he has wasted his life in blind service to a foolish man and that he has never discovered ``the key to human warmth.'' While it is not likely to provoke the same shocks of recognition as it did in Britain, this insightful, often humorous and moving novel should significantly enhance Ishiguro's reputation here. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

A journey of brilliant insight into British class and culture in which Stevens, an English butler, faces the truth about himself and comes to terms with his own fallacies.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

A little masterpiece of restrained prose exploring the subtle roots of fascism through the life of a well-intentioned but misguided butler.