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Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the Booker prize 2021

The sun always has ways to reach us.

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse and of those who pass in the street outside. She remains hopeful a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change for ever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?  

©2021 Kazuo Ishiguro (P)2021 Faber Audio

What listeners say about Klara and the Sun

Average Customer Ratings
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    4 out of 5 stars
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An experience

Not sure what really happened. But seemed like a very kind artifical intelligence with a heart that humans can only wish for. But then thrown on the junk heap. Hope this never happens.

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stunning

surprising, sometimes tough on people, their emotional mess and inability to truly connect and be frank

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Wonderful - but some issues with narration

Wonderful story about the nature of humanity, love, and faith.
Narration was good - slightly flat as befitting the android character. However, it fell down in distracting ways (for this English listener) when voicing an 'English' character. Sounded more patrician NY than actually British, and apparently the main characteristic of the accent is to put stresses on the wrong words AND sylLABles. Really annoying, but I tried to get past it

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A poignant thought experiment

Klara and the Sun
By Kazuo Ishiguro

What a surprise and a delight! I am hesitant to share anything but the barest information about this gift waiting to be unwrapped.

The narrator is Klara, a sentient robot called an AF (Artificial Friend) designed to be a companion to teenagers. The dystopian setting is not that much different to the world we know, except that social inequalities have been amplified by policies such as genetic editing to improve children, with those choosing not to undergo the procedure being excluded from educational institutions (echoes of COVID vaccination debates).

The book opens with Klara sitting in a store window waiting to be purchased, all the while beginning to populate her ‘tabula rasa’ consciousness with images of the world in the street before her. She is fascinated by human behavior and interactions which she is programmed to observe and analyse. And so her cognitive ability and intuition begins to grow in an iterative way. She is particularly taken with the sun, which she experiences as nourishing and healing - following her witnessing a street person and his dog, who had been lying in front of the store presumably dead, revive when the sun’s rays bathe them. In the store she has a bonding experience with a teenage girl, Josie, who returns with her Mum to buy Klara. Josie suffers from a degenerative disease, and so begins Klara’s adventure of negotiating the increasingly complex world of human relationships and emotions. Through her ‘life’ experience Klara intuitively discovers the power of belief, supplication and sacrifice. There are some wonderful story twists and surprises that follow. The book is a poignant and cleverly crafted thought experiment touching on issues such as the nature of the human experience and soul.

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Enchanting performance

Wow, I was totally enchanted by the story and the narrator. I think the narrator is actually the reason I enjoyed this book so much. Beautiful performance!!

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enjoyed it a lot

loved it. the ending was quite unpredictable for me, which was quite exciting and made me follow the story. quite a sensitive and controversial issue at the core (human-like robots) and the author dealt with it quite interestingly.

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Masterpiece

Dystopic science fiction but also a beautiful portrait of the mind of a kind robot.

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Disappointing

I loved the idea of this book and the truths that it might reveal , but in the end I just could not care enough to finish it ..

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Beautiful, serene storytelling

Insightful, beautiful, terrible story of love, togetherness and what it is to be human, all from a naïve narrator you can't help but fall in love with yourself. Highly recommend.

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Strange and inconclusive?

I didnt find that it explored its theme as well as hoped it would.

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  • papapownall
  • 03-05-21

Quite a high ranking story

Recently, Kazuo Ishiguro has lamented that new authors face extreme pressure from social media and this impinges on their ability to be as experimental in their writing as they would like. There are, however, no such pressures on an old master such as Ishiguro. He is hardly prolific with this. only his eighth novel in nearly forty years.

Although the story told from the point of view of a toy in a shop which is borrowed from fairy tales, this has a decidedly modern spin. Set in the near future, this has a distinctively dystopian Black Mirror feel as we hear the tale told by Artificial Friend ("AF") Klara who is a sort of post-modern Tamagotchi. It is a brave writer who is able to even contemplate recounting a narrative such as this through deliberately stilted diction of a robot girl and some of the phrasing is strange such as "oblongs" (presumably tablet devices), Klara's view of the world through "boxes" and Klara's estimation of ages and ranking of the people she meets. This is quite a high ranking story from a true master. which is both captivating and spell-binding.

66 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Corrina A Dalby
  • 03-05-21

Disappointed

I was looking forward to this book, but it was very disappointing- the story was predictable and the narrator flat. I groaned regularly as the was story was so transparent- it would be ok for a 12-13 year old teenage market but definitely not for adults - in a word Boring! Sorry

37 people found this helpful

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  • Paddy Killary ( killary45@aol.com)
  • 03-21-21

Banal story, poor performance

I bought this after listening to the first three episodes of the serialisation on BBC Radio 4, but that was a mistake. The abridgement into 10 episodes (140 minutes in total) on the BBC is a much better way to listen to this story than the whole 610 minutes in the full book. The short version was intriguing, raising many questions in the listener, but the full version reveals how shallow the concept is, and how little Ishiguro has to say about any of the major themes he raises.

The performer has a difficult task in giving us a first-person narration from an android and as Klara is acceptable, but she fails very badly in giving us the voices of the other characters. In particular she makes a complete mess of the English accents and makes the American born boy sound like a English talk-your-weight machine with a 1950s BBC robot voice.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Sarita E.
  • 03-12-21

Spoilt by bad narration

The story is good. But. The narrator has obviously never met an English person. She seems to think they all speak like The Queen or Noel Coward! How can a teenage character who has never even visited England have an RP accent?

25 people found this helpful

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  • JulieB
  • 03-04-21

From the very first line.....

... Klara draws you into her world and we learn as she learns. A fantastic read

19 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-07-21

Not as good as I hoped

Not as good as I assumed it would be. Shallow. The who thing seemed just enough for a short story. Or like an introduction to a great story that never happened. Disappointed. Well read though.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Dr Strange Love
  • 03-28-21

Absolute rubbish

One of the worst scifi novels of all time compounded by poor narration. I'm amazed at the hype it's received given it's so bad I'm asking for a refund.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Mikey-Joe
  • 03-04-21

Unfulfilling

The novel approaches many interesting ideas and concepts but unfortunately leaves them unexplored. The story indicates clearly where it's heading, revolves around some inevitabilities but resolves them all in essentially a singular paragraph.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Camilla Galashan
  • 03-16-21

Great story, terrible attempt at British accent

The actor is wonderful in many respects, however their attempt at a British accent is strange. For me it was incredibly off putting making me dread the sections with certain characters. So if you find a bad British accent off putting I would recommend the print version.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Mary Jane 50
  • 03-15-21

Loses its way.......

This book starts and end with something close to the style and thoughtfulness I’ve come to expect from Ishiguro, though it is nowhere near as thought provoking and satisfying as ‘Never Let Me Go, which is a similar genre. But it is a long way from one of his best. It becomes entangled in environmental questions without any clarity of idea or purpose, giving it a contrived and slightly ‘woke’ feel. The portrayal of the English character, Helen, is extremely irritating, seemingly based on all the false and silly ‘Hollywood’ ideas of Englishness that are so inaccurate and irritating to anyone who is English, and unworthy of the writer, whose previous portrayals of English characters have been so natural. It feels as if this novel is aimed directly at an American, rather than an international, audience. And the prolonged and incredibly repetitive, and therefore boring, exchange between her, her son and her former lover are both unnecessary and irritating, and detract from the main theme of the book. This section seems to act as a ‘filler’, as if the author has run out of ideas and just needs to fill in a few more pages to reach a ‘number of words’ target.
Generally the narration is pretty good, moving from very robotic in Klara’s early days to much more mature as Klara fits in with her new ‘family’, which works well. But again, the interpretation of Helen’s English accent is both hackneyed-Hollywood style and very irritating.
Is this a book, like Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, that I could read, listen to or watch in film form (and there’s little doubt this will appear before long on the big screen) again and again? No, definitely not. It will more than likely end up in my archive, never to re-emerge!

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-18-21

Interesting but awkward.

Once I’d settled into the writing style and structure, I came to appreciate the beauty and complexity in this story’s simple style.

I never got used to the Narrator’s shocking accents and awkward reading style. Given how expensive these audiobooks are, I don’t think I’ll bother with Audible again, if this is the standard of their products. *Shudders*

6 people found this helpful

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  • Dr
  • 03-06-21

A mixed bag

Great writing, but frustrating plot with interesting twists diluted by extended passages of detail not contributory to the greater story.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-14-21

Subtle and Understated

The story is subtle and the AF pleasantly naive, but it works. What didn't was the narration which was painful at times to listen to - especially the appalling English accents! Please Audible vet your narrators!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Peter
  • 07-26-21

Not the book I hoped it would be

If you are into painting an image with words, then this may be a good read. If, like me, you are interested in scenarios for robot psyche, you may be dissapointed. Sorry Kazuo, its me, not you. An american should not try and do an English accent. The thought occurred to me of how the famous Eiji Yoshikawa in his book Musashi began his novel declaring the morning sun as the killer and how Kazuo Ishiguro, living on the other side of the world in the cloudy UK, begins his book with the sun being the saviour. For better insights into the psyche of robots, a better choice would be the Azimov Foundation series or The Word of Bob - an AI Minecraft Villager.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Leanne Stewart
  • 05-03-21

A lovely story

I loved this simple kind and thoughtful story of a AF and her special child

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • AJL
  • 11-23-21

Outstanding!

This story is an interesting idea, and provides us with the unusual perspective of life as an AF (Artificial Friend), as seen through the eyes of the AI protagonist and narrator, Klara.
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Kazuo Ishiguro is clearly a very astute observer of human behaviour, and he flexes this strength well through the many ponderings and interactions of Klara. His writing, too, is unsurprisingly succinct. And Sura Siu does a brilliant job of reading the novel.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs Beryl Hubschmann
  • 12-07-21

Brilliant

I am a SciFi addict. Have seldom read a book more true to the genre

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • starsunderwater
  • 10-29-21

A very original story!!

This story was so different and unexpected, weith fine details scattered throughout that slowly revealed a setting if humanity from an alternate and unexpected perspective. It was cleverly written, but at times I wished the perspective had been revealed a little earlier. I had to listen back a few times for if my mind wandered off crucial details were missed. I often listened at 1.5-2x speed as easier to concentrate. I do recommend this book. Certainly one I won’t forget, just could have been a little more “blunt” in some places.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Brianne Cuthbert
  • 10-22-21

Deeply moving

The narration quality is perfect. It underscores a deeply moving story without descending into nostalgia. The last section packed a punch. The writing is so vivid, you can see easily that this could be adapted for screen. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Blazenka
  • 09-19-21

Rremarkable story

Brilliant in its simplicity, the story opens upp complex questions about our future with AI robots.

1 person found this helpful