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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 listeners say about The Unconsoled

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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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.

8 people found this 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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    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

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

My favorite book, narrated perfectly

This book captures with stunning precision what is real in dreams and what is dreamlike in reality. It is also the funniest book that has ever been written. It is dry and tedious and heart-wrenching and a page-turner. It is a psychological thriller about errands.

Moments from this book have popped into my head, years after I’ve first read it, and caused me to laugh.

Simon Vance narrates The Unconsoled perfectly. Each character’s voice comes alive. It does not sound at all like hems reading a text, but like he’s telling a story. And he makes the story’s relentless strangeness sound totally natural.

I recommend this book. When you begin to listen, it will sound like a dry account of an unremarkable moment in a pianist’s life. Pretty soon, you’ll be hearing a hotel porter describe why he doesn’t put down guests’ luggage even when he’s standing in the elevator. With this, you will have begun to descend into the heart of our souls, where all humanity is bound together by an endless and simple desire to be consoled. And this goes on for 600 pages.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

2 people found this 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.

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Not for me

I just couldn't get into it. Conversations in such formal, stilted language, everyone feeling stressed because of requiests for assistance from others. I could feel my stress grow as I listened. I got as far as the third or 4th conversation and quit. Back it goes!

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

Unendurably Annoying

The most exasperating book ever scribbled.

It is only fair to praise what I can before beginning my rant. This book is stylistically exquisite. The writing is perfect. Moreover, the story itself is excellent and rarely gets dull. In an age when heroic attempts to stir up a few feelings often prove impotent, this work manages to throughly enflame the heart.

So what then is the problem?

The problem is that it needles you without mercy or respite. From beginning to end you will be annoyed beyond all endurance. And the author seems a one trick pony willfully bent on raising your blood pressure, a sadist if ever there was one.

Now, I am mindful that an author can’t be blamed for merely describing annoying people. One might even argue it proves a job well done ... But who would willingly submit to such torture? Even in literature there is such a thing as gentlemanly conduct. Here, it is as if the writer learned how to conjure up real annoyance, and so he milks that singular skill from beginning to end, happily ruining your mood every possible way it might be ruined.

And even if the author was inclined to make irritating people actually irritate you (bear in mind that negative qualities might be revealed through humor and other means and do not always necessitate evoking negative feelings), he was not compelled to so unremittingly poke your last nerve for the sport of it....

Give this book to your mother in law.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Unconvinced

This was a long book and one I found difficult to enjoy. It is well produced and performed but I found myself needing to stop as the story was a little frustrating, I am sure it’s meant to be in some form, so I am left unconvinced of its overall rating.

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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.