Bureaucracy and narrative possibilities in Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go Academic Article uri icon


  • This article examines the use of bureaucratic narrative that which poses the subject as an administrative subject and emphasizes the depersonalized and routinized repetition of formulaic rhetoric in Never Let Me Go (2005) and its suggestion that the language of regulation and job requirements pervasively shapes the seeming impossibility of a critical stance towards a system that is patently and determinedly cruel. By reframing Kathys and Tommys dystopianbureaucratic narrative as a romance pushing against the boundaries of bureaucracy and by situating the reader as a sympathizing character within the text, the novel makes visible the contours of neoliberal rationalities. I argue that Never Let Me Go illustrates that the bureaucratic state is experienced as an array of narratives that structure interpersonal interactions, not just as a set of material and spatial practices. This means considering bureaucracy as an interpretative frame, not just material apparatuses or structures of management.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Johansen, E.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Johansen, Emily

publication date

  • September 2016