2017 Nobel Prize – Literature

2017 Nobel Prize LiteratureThe Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017 is awarded to the English author

Kazuo Ishiguro

“who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.

My Immediate Thoughts

This is a good choice, it is back to normal after last year’s rather unusual selection.

The award to Bob Dylan last year was a nomination that left many jaws bouncing off the floor in utter shock. Many past winners have of course all been notable well-known authors whose word-crafting skills have been appropriately recognised. Examples include John SteinbeckErnest HemingwayWilliam FaulknerWinston ChurchillRudyard KiplingWilliam Butler YeatsGeorge Bernard ShawT. S. EliotBertrand RussellBoris PasternakWilliam Golding, Doris Lessing, and many more. If you read, then even if you have not read something specific by them, they will most probably all be names that you do recognise.

There is also one rather fatal structural flaw within the entire process. Only one award for one individual is given each year and that leaves many others who not only merit such an award, but the very lack of one, is almost akin to a travesty. To leave Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, James Joyce, Anton Chekhov, Marcel Proust, Henry James, W. H. Auden, Graham Greene, Salman Rushdie, Arthur Miller, Philip Roth, and many others, unrecognised is not a criticism of any of their works, but is instead best noted as a flaw within the Nobel Literature award process.

Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?

(sourced from here)

Kazuo Ishiguro was born on November 8, 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan. The family moved to the United Kingdom when he was five years old; he returned to visit his country of birth only as an adult. In the late 1970s, Ishiguro graduated in English and Philosophy at the University of Kent, and then went on to study Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Kazuo Ishiguro has been a full-time author ever since his first book, A Pale View of Hills (1982). Both his first novel and the subsequent one, An Artist of the Floating World (1986) take place in Nagasaki a few years after the Second World War. The themes Ishiguro is most associated with are already present here: memory, time, and self-delusion. This is particularly notable in his most renowned novel, The Remains of the Day (1989), which was turned into film with Anthony Hopkins acting as the duty-obsessed butler Stevens.

Ishiguro’s writings are marked by a carefully restrained mode of expression, independent of whatever events are taking place. At the same time, his more recent fiction contains fantastic features. With the dystopian work Never Let Me Go (2005), Ishiguro introduced a cold undercurrent of science fiction into his work. In this novel, as in several others, we also find musical influences. A striking example is the collection of short stories titled Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (2009), where music plays a pivotal role in depicting the characters’ relationships. In his latest novel, The Buried Giant (2015), an elderly couple go on a road trip through an archaic English landscape, hoping to reunite with their adult son, whom they have not seen for years. This novel explores, in a moving manner, how memory relates to oblivion, history to the present, and fantasy to reality.

Apart from his eight books, Ishiguro has also written scripts for film and television.

Bibliography – a selection

Works in English

Short Stories

  • ”A Strange and Sometimes Sadness”, ”Waiting for J.” and ”Getting Poisoned” in Introduction: No. 7: Stories by New Writers. – London : Faber & Faber, 1981
  • ”A Family Supper” in Firebird 2 : Writing Today / edited by T. J. Binding. – Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1983
  • ”The Summer After the War” in Granta, 1983:7
  • ”October 1948” in Granta, 1985:17
  • ”A Village After Dark” in The New Yorker, May 21, 2001

Film and Television

  • A Profile of Arthur J. Mason / directed by Michael Whyte ; screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, 1984
  • The Gourmet / directed by Michael Whyte ; screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, 1986
  • ”The Gourmet” in Granta, 1993:43
  • The Remains of the Day / directed by James Ivory ; screenplay by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, 1993
  • The Saddest Music in the World / directed by Guy Maddin ; screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, 2003
  • The White Countess / directed by James Ivory ; screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, 2005
  • Never Let Me Go / directed by Mark Romanek ; screenplay by Alex Garland, 2010


Further reading

  • Conversations with Kazuo Ishiguro / edited by Brian W. Shaffer and Cynthia F. Wong. – Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2008
  • Drąg, Wojciech, Trauma and Nostalgia in the Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro. – Newcastle upon Tyne : Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014
  • Garland, Alex, Never Let Me Go / screenplay by Alex Garland ; introduction by Kazuo Ishiguro. – London : Faber and Faber, 2011
  • Horton, Emily, Contemporary Crisis Fictions : Affects and Ethics in the Modern British Novel. – Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2014
  • Kazuo Ishiguro : Contemporary Critical Perspectives / edited by Sean Matthews and Sebastian Groes. – London : Continuum, 2009
  • Kazuo Ishiguro : New Critical Visions of the Novels / edited by Sebastian Groes and Barry Lewis. – Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2011
  • Kazuo Ishiguro in A Global Context / edited by Cynthia F. Wong and Hülya Yildiz. – Farnham : Ashgate, 2015
  • Lewis, Barry, Kazuo Ishiguro. – Manchester : Manchester University Press, 2000
  • Parkes, Adam, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day : A Reader’s Guide. – New York : Continuum, 2001
  • Petry, Mike, Narratives of Memory and Identity : The Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro. – Frankfurt/M. : Lang, 1999
  • Shaffer, Brian W., Understanding Kazuo Ishiguro. – Columbia : University of South Carolina Press, 1997
  • Sim, Wai-chew, Globalization and Dislocation in the Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro. – Leviston, N. Y. : Edwin Mellen Press, 2006
  • Sim, Wai-chew, Kazuo Ishiguro. – London : Routledge, 2009
  • Stanton, Katherine, Cosmopolitan Fictions : Ethics, Politics, and Global Change in the Works of Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Ondaatje, Jamaica Kincaid, and J. M. Coetzee. – New York : Routledge, 2005
  • Teo, Yugin, Kazuo Ishiguro and Memory. – Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2014
  • Wong, Cynthia F., Kazuo Ishiguro. – Tavistock : Northcote House in association with the British Council, 2000

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