Monday, January 07, 2008

A Pale View of Hills

Had finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro, A Pale View of Hills.Boy, does it make my head spins. Before proceeding, the plot description as below (as freely copy and paste from Wikipedia)

This is the story of Etsuko, a middle-aged Japanese woman living alone in England, and opens with discussion between Etsuko and her younger daughter, Niki, about the recent suicide of Etsuko's older daughter, Keiko. Etsuko's thoughts, however, dwell not on either of her daughters so much as on the more distant past and the mysterious relationship she formed with a woman named Sachiko and with the woman's young daughter, Mariko, some years before in Japan.

After finishing the book, I was surprised. I thought it would be more. More stories. Answers. Backstory. Resolution. But there is none. The story was left hanging.

After I finished the book, various questions arises that left me wondering..

What happened to Ogata San? What is in Etsuko's past? Why did she marry Jiro? What happened to Sachiko in Kobe? Did she ever go to America? Will Mariko ever gotten over her trauma? Who is the woman that bring Mariko and Sachiko such torture? Does she even exist? How did Sachiko ever get to her state of vagrant? How can someone so rich, so educated can be so naive? How did Etsuko leave Japan and fall in love with a British man?

Then afterwards.. after mulling it about a bit, I begin to think. Does Sachiko and Etsuko is the same woman? Are Mariko and Keiko too the same? But both women fate, even though similar, they had different circumstances. Perhaps both women destiny are parallel to each other, and perhaps Etsuko fate takes where Sachiko stories left off.

What is also curious is on her lack of feeling or reaction to Keiko's death. I also see on how it seems her other daughter seems at times to channel Sachiko. I like Etsuko humours her father in law, it gives a lighter feeling to the character. All in all, among all the characters in the books (including her daughters), Etsuko seems to be attuned to Ogata-san, his feelings and way of thoughts.

I like this book. Its narrative is simplistic in its description, yet it provoked powerful image. The dialogue is smooth and hinted at the character's layers of personalities and thoughts. A book that give you more questions rather than answers. It makes you think for once in term of the fiction world, this is the book that represent life, where questions are never answered and the stories never end.

Thought provoking.

p/s: I would love to read more of his works to see if this is his style or does he have different agenda for different books. I would love to read this book again to see what I missed and also if I can pick up any hint if my theories above are true.


obefiend said...

i swore off oriental english novel after reading Memoirs of a Geisha neraly 9 years ago. i was sure this hyped up novel is golden ( yeah bad pun og Michael Golden's name!). it was the slowest piece of literature i've ever read. maybe for the mat salleh the oriental mystery is intriguing. not to an asian like me.

so how does this tie in with your blog entry? well that book and your review just put an extra nail in the coffin of my oriental english literature adventure ( long one eh). i try to give it a go the story is too melodramatic.again.. this would probably appeal to mat salleh ( the main target of these books).

p/s: the only other book by an asian writer i read was by Iris Chang. too bad she killed herself!! sad

Dila said...

Methink you're right on how Asian writers are kinda melodramatic. The famous one. But this might not be your cup of tea. However it is not unlike a book such as Catcher in the Rye I think where you give a thought on human characters.

I enjoyed the book, the melodramatic one. However, I do need to read a much more cheerful book (read as chick lit) whenever I finished reading a particularly serious books.

Balance things out I guess as so I will not be that depressed.

haneemot said...

"To kill a mocking bird". havent finish yet. best ke? read that book 2 years back. hehe.

Dila said...

Itu adalah buku yg eden tidak baca lagi.

When in doubt google. Heheh google review... tp ramai kate best.