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The Unconsoled

Narrated by: Simon Vance
Length: 19 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4 out of 5 stars (85 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prize-winning novel The Remains of the Day, here is a novel that is at once a gripping psychological mystery, a wicked satire of the cult of art, and a poignant character study of a man whose public life has accelerated beyond his control.

The setting is a nameless Central European city where Ryder, a renowned pianist, has come to give the most important performance of his life. Instead, he finds himself diverted on a series of cryptic and infuriating errands that nevertheless provide him with vital clues to his own past.

In The Unconsoled Ishiguro creates a work that is itself a virtuoso performance, strange, haunting, and resonant with humanity and wit.

©1995 Kazuo Ishiguro (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"With this stunning new novel, cast in the form of a postmodern nightmare, Ishiguro tells a powerful story in which he once again exploits a narrator's utter lack of self-knowledge to create a devastating deadpan irony." ( Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A masterpiece of modern-day Alice in Wonderland

Would you listen to The Unconsoled again? Why?

Yes, to decide if the book took place anywhere outside of Mr. Ryder's stressful mind. The book is about the three-day adventures of a famous pianist, Mr Ryder. Or is it actually about the author, Mr. Kazuo Ishiguro, the famous Writer, while during, or after his book tour? Did he lay awake imagining, really have the experiences, or was it all a nightmare?

What other book might you compare The Unconsoled to and why?

Alice and Wonderland. Alice, meet Mr. Ryder, not in Wonderland but in Stress-land. I desperately wanted to jump into the book, The Unconsoled, and immediately rescue Mr. Ryder, from himself. The adventures of the famous pianist, Mr Ryder, are similar to the distracted adventures Alice encounters in her Wonderland.

Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. Simon Vance is the gold standard of narrators. Each and every one of his books are exceptional. The Unconsoled rates among on of his best performances. His effortless and smooth performance was as addictive, complex and diverse as the characters themselves.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, even though at times it was very uncomfortable, I really wanted the characters to show love towards each other. Of course, I also wanted Mr. Ryder to learn the gentle art of saying no.

Any additional comments?

The Unconsoled is a book about stress, stressful to read, but with absolute pleasure. Mr. Kazuo Ishiguro is one of my favorite authors and has created a masterfully written classic that should go down in history. Simon Vance nails the narration.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very satisfied with this book!!

I randomly picked this book up at a sale in the past and read it. Although a little confusing at times I really enjoyed it and it ranks up in my top 5 books. Seeing that they had it on Audible I immediately got it since I was thinking about reading it again. The narrator was great giving different voices to each character and I was very happy when I finished it. I'm sure I will listen to it again in the near future.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Slow; not my favorite book

Pretty slow, wanted to give up honestly for the majority of the novel but stuck with it. It’s easy enough to listen to and get distracted; the plot is comprised almost entirely of conversations between the narrator, an esteemed pianist invited to perform in a small town, and a myriad of townspeople who unabashedly approach him with this tale or another having to do with their small town lives.... I was hoping it would be worth it in the latter half of the book, and this build up was for something, but was ultimately disappointed. I was interested because reviews compared it to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, but, apart from the subtly whimsical (honestly, incessant) conversations between quiet, quaint English characters, I fail to see the resemblance.

There are occasional fanciful gems, characters that shine with their whimsy, but not enough to strengthen the book.
The porters dance was one of the most wonderland ish segments; otherwise the major plot points/happenings are too quiet to offset the lengthy conversations that comprise a majority of the book. All in all, not my favorite

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Torturous trip to nowhere

This book has been compared to an Escher print, and I couldn't agree more. People and places and events morph without logic, twisting in on themselves in nonsensical ways. The story seems cold and pointless, with every scene a long monologue by one character or another, all of whom seem to be in their own separate, mostly disconnected tracks, wearing down those tracks into deep ruts of stories where phrases repeat over and over. Maybe the characters are supposed to be archetypes or metaphors; they're mostly wooden and one-dimensional. And Ryder, the narrator, is insufferable.

I stayed with this loooong book (and boy did it feel long) until the bitter end, hoping for something interesting or revealing to happen, and though plot points resolved, there was nothing satisfying in those resolutions. It was a stressful, exhausting, and unenjoyable read from beginning to end. Getting my credit back on this one.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • AI
  • 08-18-19

Excruciatingly slow and pointless!

I felt like I was observing someone's stupid, anxious dream. Extremely slow moving and frustrating; lots of repetition by the characters. I kept waiting for an upswing, a point, or a resolution and there was none! I stuck it out to the end and was dropped off at the curb, lost. A very unfulfilling read.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

kafkaesque novel

Baffling, frustrating, slow-moving novel, gave up after 3 chapters. Kafkaesque, but since that's the case, why not read the master?
Simon Vance disappoints despite a lovely voice and accent because of a verbal tic --his downward pitch of voice to end sentences was annoying to the point of distraction.
Alas, I seem to have fallen afoul of the gods at amazon and have to go through some bureaucratic hurdle to return or exchange the book.
'Nuf said. Caveat Auditor

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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Theater of the absurd

Written beautifully. The story left me so anxious and frustrated. Hates it. Could t finish.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Don’t waste your time!

My curiosity got the better of me and I listened to the end-not worth my time-good for putting you to sleep though.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautifully Written and Brilliantly Read

The narrator breathes life into the longest and most enigmatic novel of Ishiguro's bibliography, through animated delivery and compelling character range.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Very strange story

I could not follow the story line and gave up. I think this book needs to be read and not listened to.