On October 5, the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature to British author, Kazuo Ishiguro, surprising the winner himself. Ishiguro is no stranger to awards and critical acclaim, with 4 of his books being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and one – The Remains of the Day – winning it in 1989. As an ode to his tremendous contribution to literature, Ishiguro was made Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL).
The announcement of Kazuo Ishiguro’s win was accompanied by generous praise by the Swedish Academy. Ishiguro’s work, they observed, carried a “great emotional force that uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” While such great admiration was being heaped on him from such illustrious quarters, a humble Ishiguro revealed that he initially believed it to be fake news. He admitted that his being clubbed with such eminent literary personalities as Margaret Atwood and Pablo Neruda took him by surprise.
Kazuo Ishiguro – An Artist of the Floating World:
Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki in 1954. Maybe as a precursor to the title of a book that would be his second step in gaining literary acclaim, Ishiguro moved with his family to Surrey, Britain in 1960. Since then, he has proudly claimed to be British, while maintaining his Japanese roots, often expressing surprise as to why he should not. As a Japanese man in Britain, he explained in a 1989 interview that his parents probably wanted him not to lose touch with his Japanese roots, thereby maintaining the culture at home.
With his feet firmly in his roots and in a country that made him who he is today, Ishiguro can be dubbed as a true artist of the floating world.
The Ishiguro Theme and Characters:
Ishiguro admits that while Japanese writers like Junichiro Tanizaki have had a minor influence on his writing, it is films by directors like Mikio Naruse that find preference with him, in addition to Proust and Dostoyevsky. These influences have molded his work in ways that make people compare him to stalwarts such as Austen and Rushdie, but Ishiguro denies any such comparisons.
Many of Kazuo Ishiguro’s stories are set in the past, mostly in pre- and postwar settings that he confesses he is attracted to. This is a recurring theme in his unparalleled work – stories that bring characters to life and create an emotional connect so strong with the reader, that it is impossible to emerge unscathed from the depths of each of his stories.
One of the major reasons why Ishiguro’s works resonate so well with readers is the clique of people in his stories. His characters are people who try to see their failings in the light of their past, people whose flaws are gradually revealed over the span of the story. He weaves the journey beautifully into the storyline, almost as a backdrop, before you can realize that he has indeed given a well-defined description of the character in question.
Another reason why Kazuo Ishiguro’s stories work their way around the reader’s heart is their ability to create sympathy. This sympathy stems from the main character’s flaws, mostly aided by the fact that six of his novels are first-person stories narrated by the main character. This sympathy coupled with the unresolved character issues makes sure that the reader lives with the character and the story for the rest of their life.
Faber and Faber, a publisher based in the United Kingdom, has published all of Kazuo Ishiguro’s works so far, distribution being taken up by Random House.
Ishiguro’s first novel A Pale View of Hills, published in 1982, won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize in the same year. His second book, An Artist of the Floating World, was published in 1986 and won the Whitbread Prize that year. It was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
It was his 1989 novel, The Remains of the Day that won the Man Booker Prize and brought forth to the world his literary genius. Post this, Ishiguro wrote 4 more novels, two of which were also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Of The Unconsoled (1995), When We Were Orphans (2000), Never Let Me Go (2005), and The Buried Giant (2015), the years 2000 and 2005 saw shortlists. Word has it Never Let Me Go missed out by a very narrow margin.
Kazuo Ishiguro is not only a novelist par excellence, but also a screenwriter and lyricist. With 4 screenplays, 6 works of short fiction, and 12 song lyrics under his belt, Ishiguro’s vast experience in these fields remains unparalleled. His work as a lyricist boasts of a collaboration with Grammy-nominated jazz singer, Stacey Kent.
Kazuo Ishiguro might have wanted to become a singer-songwriter as a young man. But if he had concentrated solely on those, the world might have been deprived of a fantastically brilliant author whose works show humans and their flaws in a brand new, accepting light. With Ishiguro’s works encompassing emotions in their own, special way, it would be safe to say that he has created a Universe of his own!
Author(s): Kazuo Ishiguro
Publisher: Faber, 2010
Buy from Amazon – Please use the affiliate link below & share the love!
If you are an author, share about you & your book(s) in Author’s corner & take a look at our unique community approach to Book Marketing. Book lovers can Contribute articles & join our Review program to receive review copies of new release books !