Kazuo Ishiguro: “Klara and the Sun”

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Author, Kazuo Ishiguro. Photo by Andrew Testa.

Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Klara and the Sun” is a novel focused on a small group of people in a robot future. It poses the questions: is there something actually special about each individual person; is there something like a soul inside of these bodies. Can uniqueness be replicated with enough data and technology? The protagonist Klara, an AF (Artificial Friend), is hungry to learn about the human world, and we learn as she learns. Ishiguro’s first release as a Nobel Laureate.

Excerpt from “Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Klara and the Sun

Then our turn finally came, and Rosa and I stepped into the window one morning, making sure not to knock over any of the display the way the pair before us had done the previous week. The store, of course, had yet to open, and I thought the grid would be fully down. But once we’d seated ourselves on the Striped Sofa, I saw there was a narrow gap running along the bottom of the grid – Manager must have raised it a little when checking every-thing was ready for us – and the Sun’s light was making a bright rectangle that came up onto the platform and finished in a straight line just in front of us. We only needed to stretch our feet a little to place them within its warmth. I knew then that whatever the answer to Rosa’s question, we were about to get all the nourish-ment we would need for some time to come. And once Manager touched the switch and the grid climbed up all the way, we became covered in dazzling light.

I should confess here that for me, there’d always been another reason for wanting to be in the window which had nothing to do with the Sun’s nourishment or being chosen. Unlike most AFs, unlike Rosa, I’d always longed to see more of the outside – and to see it in all its detail. So once the grid went up, the realization that there was now only the glass between me and the sidewalk, that I was free to see, close up and whole, so many things I’d seen before only as corners and edges, made me so excited that for a moment I nearly forgot about the Sun and his kindness to us.

I could see for the first time that the RPO Building was in fact made of separate bricks, and that it wasn’t white, as I’d always thought, but a pale yellow. I could now see too that it was even taller than I’d imagined – twenty-two stories – and that each repeating window was underlined by its own special ledge. I saw how the Sun had drawn a diagonal line right across the face of the RPO Building, so that on one side of it there was a triangle that looked almost white, while on the other was one that looked very dark, even though I now knew it was all the pale yellow color. And not only could I see every window right up to the rooftop, I could sometimes see the people inside, standing, sitting, moving around. Then down on the street, I could see the passers-by, their different kinds of shoes, paper cups, shoulder bags, little dogs, and if I wanted, I could follow with my eyes any one of them all the way past the pedestrian crossing and beyond the second Tow-Away Zone sign, to where two overhaul men were standing beside a drain and pointing. I could see right inside the taxis as they slowed to let the crowd go over the crossing – a driver’s hand tap-ping on his steering wheel, a cap worn by a passenger.

Excerpted from KLARA AND THE SUN: A Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Copyright © 2021 by Kazuo Ishiguro. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.