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Kazuo Ishiguro: “Jane Austen’s comedy of manners plus Kafka’s psychological insights”

British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro during a press conference at his home in London on October 5, 2017 following the announcement that he has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.   | Photo Credit: AP

Kazuo Ishiguro, the Japanese-born British novelist best known for The Remains of the Day, won the 2017 Nobel Literature Prize on October 5. The academy said that Mr. Ishiguro’s eight novels are works of emotional force that uncover “the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” Sara Danius, the Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary said: “I would say that if you mix Jane Austen her comedy of manners and her psychological insights with Kafka, then I think you have Ishiguro.” Here’s a look at his novels:

Kazuo Ishiguro’s books are on display at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm on October 5, 2017.

Kazuo Ishiguro’s books are on display at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm on October 5, 2017.   | Photo Credit: AFP

 

The Remains of the Day (1989)

British author Kazuo Ishiguro, best known for his novel “The Remains of the Day”, has won the Nobel Literature Prize 2017.

British author Kazuo Ishiguro, best known for his novel “The Remains of the Day”, has won the Nobel Literature Prize 2017.   | Photo Credit: AFP

 

In The Remains of the Day, Mr. Ishiguro’s most famous Booker-winning work, a butler at a grand house looks back on a life in service to the aristocracy. The book’s gentle rhythms and Downton Abbey–style setting gradually deepen into a darker depiction of the repressed emotional and social landscape of 20th-century England. The 1993 film adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson was nominated for eight Academy Awards — AFP

Never Let Me Go (2005)

Kazuo Ishiguro: “Jane Austen’s comedy of manners plus Kafka’s psychological insights”
 

Like The Remains of the Day, his 2005 novel Never Let Me Go is not what it seems. What appears to be the story of three young friends at a boarding school gradually reveals itself as a dystopian tale with elements of science fiction that asks deep ethical questions. In Never Let Me Go Mr. Ishiguro introduced "a cold undercurrent" of science fiction into his work. — AFP

A Pale View of Hills (1982)

Kazuo Ishiguro: “Jane Austen’s comedy of manners plus Kafka’s psychological insights”
 

Born in Nagasaki in 1954, nine years after the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on the city, Mr. Ishiguro moved to Britain with his family when he was five. He only returned to visit Japan as an adult some three decades later. Both his first novel A Pale View of Hills and the subsequent one, An Artist of the Floating World from 1986, take place in Nagasaki a few years after World War II. In a 1989 interview with Bomb Magazine, Mr. Ishiguro said: "I tend to be attracted to pre-war and post-war settings because I'm interested in this business of values and ideals being tested, and people having to face up to the notion that their ideals weren't quite what they thought they were before the test came." — AFP

An Artist of the Floating World (1986)

Kazuo Ishiguro: “Jane Austen’s comedy of manners plus Kafka’s psychological insights”
 

In a 1991 interview with former Nobel laureate Kenzaburō Ōe of Japan, he said the Japan he wrote about in An Artist In the Floating World was "very much my own personal, imaginary Japan".

"This may have a lot to do with my own personal history. As a small child, I was taken away from the people I knew, like my grandparents and my friends. I couldn't forget Japan because I had to prepare myself for returning to it. So I grew up with a very strong image in my head of this other country, a very important other country to which I had a strong emotional tie," he said.

"I'm beginning to see as I get older that my leaving Japan at the point when I did was, in complicated ways, a key defining thing," he said in a 1995 interview with the Financial Times. — AFP

The Buried Giant (2015)

Kazuo Ishiguro: “Jane Austen’s comedy of manners plus Kafka’s psychological insights”
 

Inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Marcel Proust, Mr. Ishiguro's characters often painfully come to terms with who they are without closure. His latest novel, The Buried Giant explores "in a moving manner, how memory relates to oblivion, history to the present, and fantasy to reality," the Academy noted. In the book, 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. — AFP

The Unconsoled (1995)

Kazuo Ishiguro: “Jane Austen’s comedy of manners plus Kafka’s psychological insights”
 

“When The Unconsoled finally appeared in 1995, its 500-plus pages about the dream-like peregrinations of a concert pianist around a hazy Mitteleuropa left readers and reviewers baffled and occasionally angry. Critic James Wood went so far as to claim the book had ‘invented its own category of badness’,” wrote Nicholas Wroe of The Guardian. However, according to the introduction to The Art of Fiction interview with Mr. Ishiguro in the Paris Review “others came passionately to its defence, including Anita Brookner, who overcame her initial doubts to call it ‘almost certainly a masterpiece’”.

When We Were Orphans (2000)

Kazuo Ishiguro: “Jane Austen’s comedy of manners plus Kafka’s psychological insights”
 

“...When We Were Orphans sees Ishiguro return to the sort of form that have led his publishers to call him one of the world's greatest writers. I did not think it was nearly as good as The Remains of the Day, his masterpiece, but it is nevertheless an astonishingly good novel with all the Ishiguro trademarks — a calm, measured prose, deft humour, a remarkable sense of place and time and a captivating principal protagonist,” reads a review of the novel published in The Hindu.


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