Lauren Molyneux curls up with a good book to review the latest best seller
Klara and the Sun
‘Do you believe in the human heart?’
With the rise of the sun each morning, ‘artificial friend’ Klara takes her place in the store. Seemingly more perceptive than her peers, she prioritises learning as much as she can about the human race above all else, and hopes to be placed in a prime position where the eyes of customers will regularly fall on her, and she can observe the outside world.
When she finally makes it to the storefront window and attracts the attention of a young girl and her mother, her hopes soar at the thought of being chosen. But with the early realisation that the girl, Josie, is in ill health, doubts are raised about the mother’s true intentions behind seeking an artificial companion for her daughter and Klara is warned not to invest too heavily in the promises of humans.
When it becomes clear that Josie may not survive the long-term illness that also killed her sister, the central theme of the nature of love is firmly set into motion, and we begin to consider the prospects of posthumanism and the potential that advanced artificial intelligence has in shifting our understanding of human connections.
Delivering a rich narrative with intricately developed characters and an intriguing premise, Ishiguro’s fictional world, whilst seemingly somewhat normal initially, quickly becomes one which appears to be dystopian by design, with genetically improved, ‘lifted’ children being the only ones given access to education and proper prospects for advancement.
Set in an unspecified yet not-so-distant future, Klara and the Sun is both thought-provoking and reflective, exploring the habits and condition of modern society, the bases of human interaction, and the rapid development of technology and the scope of its potential to impact us as a race.
Delivering insightful and often touching commentary from a unique and unforgettable narrator, in his latest masterpiece Ishiguro delicately explores concepts of love, loyalty and family to leave readers with the lingering question of what it ultimately means to be human.