By Vanessa V. Friedman
Updated October 27, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Unconsoled

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The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf, $25) It is impossible to escape the comparison, so here it is: Ishiguro, famous author of repressed-Brit novels (The Remains of the Day), has suddenly decided to abandon the old estate and borrow a page from Kafka. A big page. His new novel is essentially a long, detailed description of the demands and expectations that fame can load on an individual’s shoulders-in this case, a pianist named Ryder. Every person who meets him wants something, and as Ryder attempts to please them all, he, not surprisingly, pleases none of them. Since Ryder is the narrator of his own saga, the reader is largely in the dark about what is really going on. Ryder may be having a nervous breakdown, or he may be dreaming-who knows? This is not an easy situation to maintain for 500 or so pages, and Ishiguro does it seamlessly. But he has built this tale around a cold, unsympathetic person. Which brings up another, perhaps more essential, question: In the end, who cares? B+

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The Unconsoled

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