Kazuo Ishiguro is a talented writer whose books have been bestsellers, award-winners, and beloved by book clubs, and his newest release is no exception! Klara and the Sun has been picked as Good Morning America's book club choice, and it even made an appearance on President Obama's 2021 reading list! If your book club decides to jump on the bandwagon, here is a reading guide and Klara and the Sun book club questions for your next meeting!
Klara and the Sun Summary
Kazuo Ishiguro presents readers with a lightly speculative tale that has big implications about what it means to be human. Klara is an Artificial Friend, a robot designed to be a playmate to human children. She lives in a store where she watches customers come and go every day, and she observes every detail about them. She's hopeful that one day, someone will choose her and she'll get to find a real home and friends, and someone to love...but will it ever happen?
Klara and the Sun Reading Guide
Before diving in, it might be helpful to know that this is a science fiction book but its focus is narrowed down on the experiences of a single robot, and how AI and humanity work together—or don't. Kazuo Ishiguro's previous novel Never Let Me Go also explored similar themes of what it means to be human, and how servitude and technology can be a slippery slope. If you're not a regular science-fiction reader, don't worry! This is a speculative book, but with the feel of a literary novel.
Klara and the Sun Book Club Questions
Discuss the term "Artificial Friend" and its implications. Do you think that Ishiguro picked that term intentionally, aware of the irony? How does it resonate in the book?
Discuss Klara's level of sentience and sophistication. How do her interactions with the Artificial Friends reveal character, personality? Do you think it was an intentional choice of her programming?
What were your impressions of the family that takes Klara home? How does the death of Josie's sister affect the family? How does Josie's illness affect the family?
What measurements of success do the adults in this story use to evaluate their children, and their own parenting skills? Even if you aren't a parent, do you agree with them? Why or why not?
How does Klara's opinion of Mother shift after their excursion?
What is Klara's relationship to the sun? To nature?
Based on Klara's observations, what do you think of the way that people socialize in this book? Consider both the adults and children. Is it healthy? A consequence of the world they're living with?
What was your reaction upon reading the plan that Klara was to be turned into an avatar of Josie? Would you ever consider doing the same for a loved one? How does Klara learn how to emulate Josie, and how does it shape her understanding of what it is to be alive and human?
Aside from exploring big questions about humanity and what it means to love and live, this book also contains commentary on environmental destruction. Discuss how Klara's journey is connected to this message. Do you think Ishiguro's vision of the future feels plausible?
What, if any, considerations about AI did this book raise for you? Are there logistical and ethical dilemmas you'd never considered before? Did the humans act in an ethical or moral way regarding the AI that they created?
What did you think of Klara's ultimate fate?
What do you think the advantages are of reading this story solely from Klara's point of view? If you could get the point of view of any other secondary character, which would you like to explore?
Discuss the concept of loneliness, as its explored in this book. Did it surprise you to see that the Artificial Friends could feel lonely? What did you think of the depiction?
In the end, who seemed more human to you? The humans, or the Artificial Friends?
The setting is near future, and in many ways it feels very familiar to our current lived experience. Did the setting feel realistic to you? Why or why not? What details stuck out to you?
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