I chose this for the CBR15 Passport Challenge in the “Travel Your Bookshelf” category.
The first time I read Buried Giant, it was going to be a 3 star rating the ending saved it for me. That moment on the shore with Axl and Beatrice gets me in the feels. It’s such sharp, intense writing that leaves a strong impression on a reader. That deserves recognition. Originally, I thought the plot didn’t have much meaning to it which was why I was thinking it had earned 3 stars. The only parts that really stood out to me was the “Beowulf” allusion in the character Wistan and the Sir Gawain character, but other than these allusions I was lost as to what the point of the story was.
Reading it for a second time, and having taught it a few times, the book has meant a lot more to me. There’s a theme that sticks out to me: is it better to forget the past and embrace the present or is it better to confront the past in order to have a present that’s based on truth? Using the conflict between the Britons and the Saxons as the anchor conflict, Ishiguro shows the readers that neither path is easy, but ultimately, we have to confront the past if we want to live in a present that feels true. Several characters debate this question throughout the quest and it’s hard not to apply it to today’s world. Living through the 2016 election period, the pandemic, January 6th, and whatever is going to come next has shown me that there’s a real danger in basing current decisions on a past that either never existed or has been mythologized beyond reality. So many people want to avoid discussing past history while others want to address the past in order to move forward. It’s become so prescient with all the CRT witch hunts and history textbook censoring. Because Ishiguro weaves this question so subtly into the plot, it gives the reader room to address this question for themself.
I think this book lends itself well to book clubs too.