A serious look at professional identity and how it can devour your life. Every social interaction, almost every inner feeling that wouldn't fit the professional identity, is discarded even before Stevens himself is quite aware of it.
I personally found Stevens very real and rather tragic, and do so pity him.
The handling of the first person narrative is masterly. The voice is consistent throughout, never a slip of the tongue, always restrained, always unemotional. And despite that, we get to see the emotions and know quite a lot of things Stevens either doesn't know or doesn't admit to himself.
Despite Ishiguro's British upbringing, and himself disclaiming significant influence from Japanese writers, some overtones are reminding me of the few Japanese authors I read. Repressing the emotions (and pushing them inside where they are pressure-cooked to burst one day) does seem to be as much a Japanese trait as an English one, in any case.