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The Unconsoled

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The Unconsoled
First edition
AuthorKazuo Ishiguro
PublisherFaber and Faber
Publication date
Publication placeUnited Kingdom
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages535 pp (paperback edition)
ISBN0-571-17718-2 (paperback edition)
Preceded byThe Remains of the Day 
Followed byWhen We Were Orphans 

The Unconsoled is a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, first published in 1995 by Faber and Faber, and winner of the Cheltenham Prize that year.

Plot introduction[edit]

The novel takes place over a period of three days. It is about Ryder, a famous pianist who arrives in a central European city to perform a concert. He is entangled in a web of appointments and promises which he cannot seem to remember, struggling to fulfil his commitments before Thursday night's performance and frustrated with his inability to take control.


  • Ryder – Renowned concert pianist
  • Sophie – Gustav's daughter and Boris' mother
  • Boris – Sophie's son
  • Gustav – Bellhop of the hotel and Boris' grandfather
  • Miss Collins – Former lover of Brodsky
  • Hoffman – Manager of the hotel
  • Mrs Hoffman – Hoffman's wife; has photo albums dedicated to Ryder
  • Stephan – Hoffman's son. Also a pianist, yet is insecure about his parents' disapproval
  • Brodsky – Washed up conductor the town tries to revive
  • Bruno – Brodsky's deceased dog
  • Fiona – Train ticketer, Ryder's childhood friend
  • Geoffrey Saunders – Another childhood friend of Ryder. Pops up sporadically throughout the town.
  • Miss Stratmann – in charge of planning Ryder's concert
  • Christoff – Musician disliked by the town


The Unconsoled was described as a "sprawling, almost indecipherable 500-page work"[1] that "left readers and reviewers baffled".[2] It received strong negative reviews with a few positive ones. Literary critic James Wood said that the novel had "invented its own category of badness". However, a 2006 poll of various literary critics voted the novel as the third "best British, Irish, or Commonwealth novel from 1980 to 2005",[3] tied with Anthony Burgess's Earthly Powers, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, Ian McEwan's Atonement, and Penelope Fitzgerald's The Blue Flower. John Carey, book critic for the Sunday Times, also placed the novel on his list of the 20th century's 50 most enjoyable books. It has come to be generally regarded as one of Ishiguro’s best works.[4]


  1. ^ Sukhdev Sandhu (6 March 2005). "The hiding place". The Telegraph. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  2. ^ Nicholas Wroe (19 February 2005). "Living memories". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2010.
  3. ^ Robert McCrum (8 October 2006). "What's the best novel in the past 25 years?". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Kazuo Ishiguro, a Nobel laureate for these muddled times". The Economist. 5 October 2017.

External links[edit]