Dinner with a Book: Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun

Friday nights are not what they used to be. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Cross your heart and tell me honestly –  are you sure you want your pre-lockdown Friday nights back? 

I guess that depends on how you spent them. All night bar-hopping can be fun, yes, but how much do you miss waking up to that slap of remorse on Saturday morning?

Going to movies is certainly missed – but thanks to Netflix at least there are options. What I am longing for most, though, what I’ve truly got an appetite for, is dinner somewhere nice. Flickering candles, starched napkins, the background buzz of fellow diners. I miss the leisurely perusing of a menu, now replaced with the wearied scanning of instructions on yet another supermarket deal.

Guess what – those dinner places miss us too; and more than that – they need our support as they struggle to stay afloat. The once guilty ritual of a takeaway has become a good deed! Tap in to those karma points and order something local. 

What ‘Dinner with a Book’ will do is provide you with a delicious theme and good company. ‘Company’? I hear you ask. 

But no, we won’t accompany you ourselves, and we won’t suggest you break the rules with illicit meet-ups. For what is better company than a good book? 

Let’s start this Lunar year with a new routine: stop by your library, get the book, then pick up that takeaway. Come home, set up the solo dinnertable of your dreams, and live your Fridays anew.

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Kazuo Ishiguro  – Klara and the Sun

This book is one of the most anticipated of 2021, not only because it was written by the Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature, but also because it’s a bittersweet story about childhood, about coming of age in a technologically advanced new world, about the unfair social class structure of modern capitalist society, about loneliness, and about… robots, or AFs (Artificial Friends) as they are called in the book. 

Kazuo Ishiguro mentioned that he seems to write the same novel again and again, and having read Artist of the Floating World, The Remains of the Day, and Never Let Me Go, I can see the common thread between these three and the new novel – the idea of spending a life caring for someone/something else, and giving away the individual property of existence. Klara is an AF, and such robots are very popular amongst a new generation of kids who don’t go to school (the idea of home schooling now brings me uncontrollable shivers), and as a result are incredibly bored and lonely. Every AF is unique, just like people, and Klara is caring, sweet and very, very intelligent. She is ‘nourished’ by solar power and worships the Sun, thinking it is almighty.

Because it is Klara who is the narrator, we can see the world from her perspective – the slightly detached, but insightful and objective perspective of an artificial mind. We also quickly realise that she has feelings, and that she can identify them – fear, happiness, disappointment, longing. She never mentions love, but there is no doubt that it is Klara who knows most about the feeling in this book. She is purchased by a girl named Josie, who is very sick, and her illness is related to how humans choose to develop in that world. I will say more than that I was surprised and strangely satisfied by the ending, which revealed that humans and the quality of being humane and benevolent are not exactly a perfect match. Repeating the theme of Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro asks us to extend empathy beyond our own kind, something we continue failing in collectively to this day. 

Foodwise: Klara obviously does not eat – she gets all the energy she needs from the sun. Still, she understands the importance of daily rituals that are inseparable from eating, and quickly realises that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for Josie as she gets to spend some time with her mother, before she leaves for work. So I thought – why not, let’s have breakfast for dinner! With a twist of childhood. So there you go: Berry Pancakes from @thebrekkyclub who thankfully serve breakfast all day long (if you ask me, everybody should).

‘Dinner with a Book’ is a new Londnr feature created & written by book blogger, Yelena from Foliovore.

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