Generic Reticence and Mediation in Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

This project takes up Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, focusing on reticence as a stylistic, structural, and narrative practice which mediates readerly access to or awareness of the novel’s non-realist, dystopian, “genre” elements. I argue that the novel’s effectiveness depends on its careful withholding (and revealing) of precisely how its world-building differs from what might be expected (and is uncannily performed prior to and around moments of revelation) of a realist, non-SF novel. Considering the novel’s reception by various reading communities (reviews and profiles in publications like NPR and the New Yorker, SF fan responses to Ishiguro’s “genre” novel(s), and academic articles that situate the novel within fields such as “Global Anglophone” and “World Literature”), and responses to Ishiguro’s 2017 Nobel Prize, I identify the novel’s suppression of SF/dystopian/generic explicitness as a key characteristic which allows for its uptake by and mobility between different cultural fields.

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