In her article, “Kazuo Ishiguro and the Service Economy,” Kate Montague argues that Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels enact a poetics of work for the present moment—not just at the level of narrative but also in the kind of language used to describe the service economies his characters are doomed to inhabit. In his best-known novels, a clinical, bureaucratic, and even glorifying lexicon of “donations,” “completions,” “substitutions,” and “lifting” is betrayed by the reality of work grounded in horror. In Ishiguro’s worlds, which are very much our own, the out-sourcing of reproductive and domestic labor is enabled by a larger system in which state technologies as well as linguistic forms mark certain bodies as readily exploitable and disposable. Looking comparatively between dystopian literary form and recent critical work on the service and care industries, the article shows how the tension between a euphemistic language of service and a social logic of mass death speaks to our own moment and to a crisis of care that, after years of austerity and now a global pandemic, defines the present.
"Kazuo Ishiguro and the Service Economy."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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