Divinity Reads

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Duke Divinity School will continue its celebration of the role of fiction in the Christian life by adopting a novel for community-wide reading and discussion this spring: Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go,” published in 2005.

A discussion of the book, to be led by professors Amy Laura Hall and Paul Griffiths, will take place from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23 in Room 0012 Westbrook.

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, but was raised in England. His publications have included short stories and screenplays, but he is most well known for his novels. In 1989 he won the prestigious Booker Prize for “The Remains of the Day,” and was shortlisted in 1986 for “An Artist of the Floating World,” in 2000 for “When We Were Orphans,” and in 2005 for “Never Let Me Go.”

A movie version of “The Remains of the Day,” starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, was made in 1993, and “Never Let Me Go,” starring Keira Knightley, will be released in 2010.

In “Never Let Me Go” we meet Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, students at Hailsham, a boarding school situated in the English countryside. At first it appears their lives are comfortable and full, yet as the novel progresses, the school’s promotion of creativity and insistence on regular medical examinations for all the pupils suggest that not everything is as it appears.

The novel prompts readers to consider issues of medical ethics but also raises concerns about our contemporary values and their stultifying effects. We are forced to consider, especially in our reading of the character of Kathy, whether our actions—or lack of actions—are the products of a virtuous sense of duty or a passive acceptance of the status quo.

“Divinity Reads” encourages students, staff, and faculty to read not only this novel but works of fiction that foster Christian reflection on important religious and ethical issues. “A life without literature is a life barely lived,” Griffiths says. “This is as true for Christians as for anyone else: if you're a preacher or a teacher it isn't enough to read theology and philosophy. Your imagination and your intellect need to be nourished and shaped and nuanced—by Scripture, of course, but also by fiction and poetry.”

Copies of “Never Let Me Go” will be available in the Divinity School’s Cokesbury Bookstore. See reviews of the book.

Divinity Reads began in the fall semester with “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold.

For details about Divinity Reads, contact

Rev. Chris Brady

, director of the Offices of Student Life and Formation.