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Written on the Face: Race and Expression in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-862
Number of pages19
JournalMFS: Modern Fiction Studies
Issue number4
Early online date29 Dec 2014
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Dec 2014
DatePublished (current) - Dec 2014


This essay argues that Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go draws an analogy between the lives of the clones and the experience of the racially marginalized, exposing the contradictions of contemporary genomic science in which race is being both effaced and revived as biological concept. As Ishiguro critiques the current postracial era, he presents an alternative postracial vision, which evokes Darwin’s theory of the universality of expression and thus the common descent of different races. Through Kathy’s privileging of facial expressions in her narrative, the novel offers a view of kinship that moves beyond the genetic assumptions that underpin (racial) identity politics, toward a model of reciprocity based on a nonbiological, nonracial affinity.

    Structured keywords

  • Centre for Black Humanities
  • Centre for Humanities Health and Science

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    Rights statement: Copyright © 2014 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in MFS: Modern Fiction Studies, Volume 60, Number 4, Winter 2014, pages 844-862.

    Final published version, 546 KB, PDF document


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