Never Let Me Go: Wikis



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Never Let Me Go  
First edition cover
First edition cover
Author Kazuo Ishiguro
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Dystopian, Science fiction novel, Speculative fiction
Publisher Faber and Faber
Publication date 2005
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 1-4000-4339-5 (first edition, hardback)
OCLC Number 56058300
Dewey Decimal 823/.914 22
LC Classification PR6059.S5 N48 2005
Preceded by When We Were Orphans
Followed by Nocturnes

Never Let Me Go (2005) is a novel by British author Kazuo Ishiguro. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize (an award Ishiguro had previously won in 1989 for The Remains of the Day), for the 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award and for the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award. Time magazine named it the best novel of 2005 and included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.[1] It also received an ALA Alex Award in 2006.


Plot summary

The novel describes the life of Kathy H., a young woman of 31, focusing at first on her childhood at an unusual boarding school and eventually her adult life. The story takes place in a dystopian Britain, in which human beings are cloned to provide donor organs for transplants. Kathy and her classmates have been created to be donors, though the adult Kathy is temporarily working as a "carer," someone who supports and comforts donors as they are made to give up their organs and, eventually, submit to death. As in Ishiguro’s other works, the truth of the matter is made clear only gradually, via veiled but suggestive language and situations.

The novel is divided in three parts, chronicling the three phases of the lives of its main characters.

The first part is set at Hailsham, a boarding school where the children are brought up and educated. The teachers there mysteriously encourage the students to produce various forms of art. The best works are chosen by a woman known only as Madame and are said to be collected in a gallery. It is seen that Hailsham is not a normal school by the odd way the teachers or "guardians" treat them, the emphasis on keeping healthy and the fences and boundaries of the school.

While the students of Hailsham are often cliquey and capricious, the three main characters  — Ruth, Tommy, and Kathy  — develop a close friendship during this time. Kathy herself seems to have resigned herself to being an observer of other people, and the choices they make, instead of making her own choices. She often takes the role of the peacemaker in the clique, especially between Tommy and Ruth. Tommy is an isolated boy who has difficulty in relating to others and is often the target of bullies, while Ruth is an extrovert with strong opinions.

In the second part, the characters, now young adults, move to the "Cottages", residential complexes where they start to have contacts with the external world and they are relatively free to do what they want. A romantic relationship develops between Ruth and Tommy, while Kathy explores her sexuality but without forming any stable relationships. While at the Cottages, they travel to Norfolk. The third part describes Tommy's and Ruth's becoming donors and Kathy's becoming a carer. Kathy cares for Ruth and then, after Ruth "completes" (Ishiguro's evocative euphemism for death), Kathy takes care of Tommy. Before her death, Ruth expresses regret over coming between Kathy and Tommy, and urges them to pursue a relationship with one another, and to seek to defer their donations based on their love. Encouraged by Ruth's last wishes, Kathy and Tommy visit Madame, where they also meet their old headmistress, Miss Emily. During this visit, they learn why artistic production had always been emphasized at Hailsham. They also learn that deferring their donations, a possibility rumoured among clones for many years, is impossible. The clones learn that Hailsham in general was an experiment, an effort to improve the conditions for clones and perhaps alter the attitudes of society, which prefers to view the clones merely as non-human sources of organs. The novel ends, after the death of Tommy, on a note of resignation as Kathy accepts her own inevitable fate as a donor and her eventual "completion."


The novel's title comes from a song on an American cassette tape called Songs After Dark by fictional singer Judy Bridgewater. Kathy buys the tape during a swap meet-type event at Hailsham. Hearing it as a mother's plea to her baby, Kathy on many occasions dances while holding her pillow and singing the chorus: "Baby, never let me go." On one occasion, while she is dancing and singing, she notices Madame watching her and crying. At this time Kathy does not understand the significance of the event. Many years later, during the final confrontation between Kathy, Tommy, and Madame, she asks Madame about her tears. Madame replies that the image she had seen was of a little girl facing the new world that was emerging, an efficient but cruel world, and asking the old world not to let her go.

Film adaptation

Never Let Me Go has been adapted into a screenplay by Alex Garland. The script appeared on the 2008 Brit List, a film-industry-compiled list of the best unproduced screenplays in British film. Never Let Me Go received six votes.[2]

In November 2008, it was reported that director Mark Romanek has signed on to direct the film.

On March 2, 2009, it was reported that Keira Knightley, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Garfield, and Carey Mulligan will be starring in the film adaptation. Filming began in April 2009 in London, Norfolk and Clevedon.[3][4][5][6]


  • Russian: "Не отпускай меня" (Don't let me go), Eksmo, 2006, ISBN 5-699-18752-9, ISBN 5-699-18752-2.
  • French: "Auprès de moi toujours" (Always close to me), Editions des Deux Terres, 2006, ISBN 2848930195, ISBN 978-2848930190.
  • Romanian: "Să nu mă părăseşti" (Don't leave me)
  • Dutch: "Laat me nooit alleen" (Never leave me alone)
  • Bulgarian: "Никога не ме оставяй" (Never let me go)
  • Finnish: "Ole luonani aina" (Be with me always)
  • Icelandic: "Slepptu mér aldrei" (Never let me go)
  • Portuguese: "Nunca me deixes" (Never let me go)
  • Portuguese: "Não me abandone jamais" (Never abandon me) - Brazilian Version
  • Galician: "Non me deixes nunca" (Never leave me)
  • Italian: "Non Lasciarmi" (Never leave me)
  • Japanese: "わたしを離さないで" (Never leave me)
  • Chinese: "別讓我走" (Never Let me go), 商周, 2007, ISBN 978-986-124-781-6
  • German: "Alles, was wir geben mussten" (Everything we had to give), btb, 2006, ISBN 978-3442736102
  • Danish: "Slip mig aldrig" (Never let me go)
  • Spanish: "Nunca me abandones" (Never abandon me)


External links

Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 27, 2010

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