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Book Talk
Excerpts from January Book Talk
February 13, 2011

Last month on Book Talk we read Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.  Through the month a thought provoking discussion gradually unfolded on the group, which kept us hooked on to the book and left most of us doubly disturbed. We’re posting excerpts of the discussion here on the blog, just to give a sense of the main themes that kept recurring to us as readers while we read the book. And of course to share how a book can be understood and interpreted at so many different levels.


  • Most readers felt this book was very different from our previous pick. Meghna said “And though the horrors of war are so clearly defined in Half… this book is more disturbing on some
    level. Strangely disturbing. Till Kainene went,  there still a sense of Hope in Half… for me. A hope that things might get
    better or that the romantic ideals of the revolution will win and see these people through. But here, with Never Let Me Go, there’s something bleak already. I’m very few pages into the book and I still feel this way.”
  • The tone and setting of the book too struck us as readers. Neha commented “It is very bleak and yet I can’t stop
    reading. I think it’s the first person narrative … a voice that doesn’t find offence in what her life is leading to (which is clearly somewhere dark – kathy mentions when it’s her turn she’d like to end up at the same hospital as ruth), but accepts it as is, at least so far into the story. This book could have been very heavy but it’s written in a simple and clean
    style. It is a girl’s story. And that’s what makes it so readable.”
  • Ishiguro’s  style too was discussed at length. His gentle, yet haunting way of describing things was often unsettling. Sujata said, “What a fine story teller !- for me much of his brilliance as a writer resides  with how he creeps stuff into the story line .. I am easing into the story when – boom! another new and startling bit of information that makes me want to close the book and sit still .”  Shweta too felt similarly and said “Saying that there was this gnawing sense of unease throughout would be an understatement. The steady loss of hope and Kathy’s apparent calm made it much worse. I don’t know if it’s just me but the subdued narrative made it
    much more horrifying and upsetting, and left me with some obscure guilt. After I was done I wanted to shake myself out of this apparent dormancy which I wasn’t even aware of, till then.
  • Sujata remarked about the alternate vocabulary that Ishiguro creates out of ordinary words. Readers mentioned how it made them restive and edgy not knowing what it meant.
  • Neha added another layer to our reading when she said, “A number of people brought up the soft scenery of the book versus the reality of the situation. I thought it was a great reflection of how society tends to address troubling issues.Throughout the book Ishiguro delivers a very subtle commentary on how we behave as a society, and how we treat those who are perceived to be different. There is an undercurrent of an ethical debate through the book. it forces you to think of all the unpleasantness out there and you stand on each.”
  • Karen got us all thinking a little more with her questions, “Did anyone think about the other world in the story? Who were the people who were receiving these organs? Did the donors never wonder who would continue to live because of their organs?”

And there was SO much more like this! Every mail left us questioning something more deeply and thinking differently about the book.

To read the complete text of the discussion and to join the group, please write to us at or at


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