Our next book. . . Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The next book we will be discussing at our staff book group on Wednesday 2oth April  is ‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro.

kazuo ishiguro

Join in with the discussion on Wednesday 20th April at our book group meeting on Wednesday 20th April from 12-1pm in UH2 at BOC/ G4 St Michaels BRC.

By the time Never Let Me Go was published in 2005, author Kazuo Ishiguro was already one of the most renowned and critically acclaimed British writers. He had previously received the Whitbread and the Booker Prize for earlier works, and his The Remains of the Day was adapted into a highly successful film.

Never Let Me Go addresses some contemporary issues. In 2001 and 2004, major legislation permitting stem-cell research was passed in the United States and the United Kingdom, raising questions about the role cloning ought to play in improving the health of “normal” humans. It also explores more timeless questions like childhood bullying and the role of sex in relationships.

Never Let Me Go was extremely well-received critically, and is included in the curriculum of many high-school and college courses. It was adapted into a film by Mark Romanek in 2010.

The science of human cloning is not the primary concern of Never let Me Go, and Ishiguro takes artistic license with some of the details of how humans are cloned in his novel. Nevertheless, many of his questions about the ethics of human cloning are ones that have been raised and debated in real life.

These ethical questions first came to the popular consciousness in the 1960’s and 1970’s, when stem-cell research was first beginning to be conceived, and human cloning began to look like a real possibility. The scientists Joshua Lederberg and James D. Watson wrote articles in The American,  Naturalist and The Atlantic Monthly, respectively, arguing that cloning was dehumanizing and could result in unforeseen ethical problems. Ishiguro’s novel could arguably be read as a rejection of the notion that cloning is dehumanizing; indeed, the purpose of Hailsham is to convince the public that the clones are human.

More recently, scientists and the public have made efforts to distinguish between “therapeutic cloning”—that is, the cloning of cells and tissues to help cure diseases––and “reproductive cloning,” which would involve creating “whole” individuals. Many countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, allow therapeutic cloning, although there is continuing debate, especially in the U.S., about whether the federal government should fund it. Ishiguro’s novel merges the two; reproductive cloning is pursued for therapeutic purposes.

Join in with the discussion on Wednesday 20th April at our book group meeting on Wednesday 20th April from 12-1pm in UH2 at BOC/ G4 St Michaels BRC.

What are your views on this?