In Kazuro Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled, passageways are ever present. The main character, Ryder, is constantly being led through long, elaborate passageways, no matter where he goes. Even the simplest, most closest place requires much travel. What’s interesting is that most of these elaborate passageways seem to lead Ryder to different parts of the same place. And, with each “road” that he travels, another and another one comes about, almost as if they were planned as such, though they seem to be a matter of mere coincidence.
With that also comes memories, slivers into Ryder’s past and present. Ishiguro uses the physical passageways that Ryder travels through as mental ones that stream through his mind. In fact, one can even pose the idea that the hotel where Ryder is staying at, and therefore the center of all his journeys, could be a physical representation of Ryder’s brain, and all the passageways that he embarks through, the signals that his brain is sending out in order to try to mend what is clearly a disconnect. At first, the memories that Ryder obtains are sporadic and shallow, but as the novel progresses these memories come at a more frequent pace and are much deeper in caliber.
Ishiguro is a master storyteller, and although many have expressed the opinion that this novel is not one of his best, I disagree. The Unconsoled should be considered a brilliant work of fiction. Ishiguro weaves us around and around in the same circle, except that with each familiar turn we learn something new and unexpected. We come to expect the unexpected, although the transpiration is never predictable. Some of the paragraphs are dauntingly long, spanning for pages at a time, but that sort of adds to the character of it.
The point of reading this novel is not necessarily for the end result, but rather the experience of it and that’s what those who find this novel a disappointment do not seem to understand. It teaches you a new way to read and enjoy, and at the same time leaves you with a satisfaction that is insurmountable.