'Out of interest': Klara and the Sun and the interests of fiction

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Abstract

Kazuo Ishiguro's penchant for affectless, stilted or robotic narrators, along with his tendency to return across his oeuvre to the same concerns and motifs, has led to a growing critical tendency to identify his writing as (interestingly) uninteresting. His most recent novel Klara and the Sun (2021) (swiftly condemned as boring by many online opiners) seems to address this question head on, by thematising interestingness itself. This article reads Klara and the Sun in light of recent work (by Sianne Ngai and others) which theorises interestingness as one of our contemporary aesthetic categories. Exploring Ishiguro's iterated fictional concerns, in particular via a comparison with Never Let Me Go, it tests out a number of ways in which the uninterestingness of Ishiguro's narratives has been turned to critical account, but argues that Klara and the Sun withstands these critical manoeuvres. Instead, it demonstrates - via engaging with John Frow's formalist work on literary interest - that Klara offers a phenomenological investigation of how fictional interest is made. This account serves as a quiet manifesto for the interest of fiction tout court, and for the interest of Ishiguro's ongoing fictional project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)614-632
Number of pages19
JournalTextual Practice
Volume38
Issue number4
Early online date18 May 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

Keywords

  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Klara and the Sun
  • Sianne Ngai
  • contemporary fiction
  • Never Let Me Go
  • Interest

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