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Encyclopedia > Never Let Me Go
Never Let Me Go
First edition cover
First edition cover
Author Kazuo Ishiguro
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Dystopian, Science fiction novel, Speculative fiction
Publisher Faber and Faber
Publication date 2005
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 1-4000-4339-5 (first edition, hardback)

Never Let Me Go (2005) is a novel by British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize (an award Ishiguro had previously won in 1989 for The Remains of the Day), for the 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award and for the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award. Time magazine named it the best fiction novel of 2005 and included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.[1] It also received an ALA Alex Award in 2006. Image File history File links Never_Let_Me_Go. ... Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ Kazuo Ishiguro, originally 石黒一雄 Ishiguro Kazuo, born November 8, 1954) is a British author of Japanese origin. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal world as the setting for a novel. ... Some notable science fiction novels, in alphabetical order by title: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke 334 by Thomas M. Disch An Age by Brian Aldiss The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton The Atrocity Exhibition by J.G. Ballard... Speculative fiction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Faber and Faber, often abbreviated to Faber, is an independent publishing house in the UK, notable in particular for publishing a great deal of poetry and for its former editor T. S. Eliot. ... Hardcover books A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) is a book bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth, heavy paper, or sometimes leather). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... ISBN redirects here. ... For other uses, see Novel (disambiguation). ... Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ Kazuo Ishiguro, originally 石黒一雄 Ishiguro Kazuo, born November 8, 1954) is a British author of Japanese origin. ... A short list is a list of candidates for a job, prize, award, political position, etc. ... The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, also known in short as the Booker Prize, is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of either the Commonwealth of Nations or the Republic of Ireland. ... This article is about the novel. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Arthur C. Clarke Award is a British award given for the best science fiction novel first published in the United Kingdom during the previous year. ... TIME redirects here. ...


Plot summary

The novel describes the childhood of Kathy H., a young woman of 31, focusing at first on her youth at an unusual boarding school and eventually, her adult life. The story takes place in a dystopian Britain, in which human beings are cloned to provide donor organs for transplants. Kathy and her classmates have been created to be donors, though the adult Kathy is temporarily working as a "carer," someone who supports and comforts donors as they are made to give up their organs and, eventually, submit to death. As in Ishiguro’s other works, the truth of the matter is made clear only gradually, via veiled but suggestive language and situations. Childhood (song) Childhood is a broad term usually applied to the phase of development in humans between infancy and adulthood. ... A boarding school is a usually fee-charging school where some or all pupils not only study, but also live during term time, with their fellow students and possibly teachers. ... A dystopia (or alternatively cacotopia) is a fictional society, usually portrayed as existing in a future time, when the conditions of life are extremely bad due to deprivation, oppression, or terror. ... Cloning is the process of creating an identical copy of an original. ... This article is about the biological unit. ...

The novel is divided in three parts, chronicling the three phases of the lives of its main characters.

The first part is set at Hailsham, a boarding school where the children are brought up and educated. The teachers there mysteriously encourage the students to produce various forms of art. The best works are chosen by a woman known only as Madame and are said to be collected in a gallery. That Hailsham is not a normal school is also indicated by the emphasis on frequent medical checks and other odd details.

While the students of Hailsham are often cliquey, capricious and cruel, the three main characters - Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy - develop a stable friendship during this time. Kathy herself seems to have resigned herself to being an observer of other people, and the choices they make, instead of making her own choices. She often takes the role of the peacemaker in the clique, especially between Tommy and Ruth. Tommy is an isolated boy who has difficulty in relating to others and is often the target of bullies, while Ruth is an extrovert with strong opinions.

In the second part, the characters, now young adults, move to the "Cottages", residential complexes where they start to have contacts with the external world and they are relatively free to do what they want. A romantic relationship develops between Ruth and Tommy, while Kathy explores her sexuality but without forming any stable connections. While at the Cottages, they travel to Norfolk to investigate the reported sighting of Ruth's "possible" (that is, the person from which she was cloned). When they approach this woman, they realize that they were wrong and all go home feeling disappointed.

The third part describes Tommy's and Ruth's becoming donors and Kathy's becoming a carer. Kathy cares for Ruth and then, after Ruth completes (a euphemism for death), Kathy takes care of Tommy. Before her death, Ruth expresses regret over coming between Kathy and Tommy, and urges them to pursue a relationship with one another and to seek to defer their donations based on their love. Encouraged by Ruth's last wishes, Kathy and Tommy visit Madame, where they also meet their old headmistress, Miss Emily. During this visit, they learn why artistic production had always been emphasized at Hailsham: the teachers wanted to prove that the clones had souls, that they possessed intellect, creativity, and humanity. The clones learn that Hailsham in general was an experiment, an effort to improve the conditions for clones and perhaps alter the attitudes of society, which prefers to view the clones merely as non-human sources of organs. Miss Emily reports that the teachers failed in their efforts, and consequently Hailsham was closed. The novel ends, after the death of Tommy, on a note of resignation, as Kathy accepts her own inevitable fate as a donor and her eventual "completion."


The novel's title comes from a song on an American cassette tape called Songs After Dark by fictional singer Judy Bridgewater. Kathy buys the tape during a swap meet-type event at Hailsham. Hearing it as a mother's plea to her baby, Kathy on many occasions dances while holding her pillow and singing the chorus: "Baby, never let me go." On one occasion, while she is dancing and singing, she notices Madame watching her and crying. At this time Kathy does not understand the significance of the event. Many years later, during the final confrontation between Kathy, Tommy, and Madame, she asks Madame about her tears. Madame replied that the image she had seen was of a little girl facing the new world that was emerging, an efficient but cruel world, and asking the old world not to let her go.


  1. ^ Never Let Me Go - ALL-TIME 100 Novels - TIME

External links

  • Review in the Sunday Times
  • Satirical summary at the Guardian
  • Extract of first few pages on NPR
  • Review by Margaret Atwood in Slate

  Results from FactBites:
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: Reviews (1550 words)
Never Let Me Go is rather like a snapshot of the moral imagination of England in the late 1990s.
"Never Let Me Go" is marred by a slapdash, explanatory ending that recalls the stilted, tie-up-all-the loose-ends conclusion of Hitchcock's "Psycho." The remainder of the book, however, is a Gothic tour de force that showcases the same gifts that made Mr.
Never Let Me Go will probably disappoint readers for whom the solution of a mystery is all-in-all, or those who want the gratification of full-on horror.
Kazuo Ishiguro Never Let Me Go Reviewed by Rick Kleffel (817 words)
Ishiguro's 'Never Let Me Go' has the quiet power of an unseen holocaust, the harrowing horror of an imagined apocalypse as seen in the pastel paintings of children who never knew what happened but were nonetheless there.
As 'Never Let Me Go' begins, Kathy, at the age of 31 surprisingly still a "carer", finds herself in the position of caring for Ruth and Tommy, her best friends back when they were all students at Hailsham.
'Never Let Me Go' is a gripping novel not only by virtue of the veracity of its characters but also due to the level of deception the narrator manages to put between herself and her world.
  More results at FactBites »



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