Kazuo Ishiguro (1954 – )

Kazuo Ishiguro (born November 8, 1954) is a British author who was born in Nagasaki, Japan.

He immigrated with his parents to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from University of Kent in 1978 and his Masters from the University of East Anglia in 1980. He now lives in London.

He won the Whitbread Prize in 1986 for his novel The Remains Of the Day.

His other novels include When We Were Orphans.

The literary characteristics of Ishiguro's work are almost unique in the accepted canon of English literature and technique. This is largely due to the mixed chronology of the plot, to the extreme subjectivity of the narration, and to the delicate and historically-accurate descriptions that accompany the narration. These characteristics are radically disconnected from conventional literary wisdom, which suggests that brief descriptions, linear chronology and objective narration characterises the most successful English writing.

Kazuo Ishiguro's novels are, by definition, historical works. His novel The Remains of the Day takes place within a large country home of an aristocratic lord, during the period immediately after the First World War and to the final period before the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. The quality of the research is superlative; not only are dates and events recorded accurately, but the psychological atmosphere is represented with skill rarely approached in historical fiction. Another novel An Artist Of the Floating World is set in Nagasaki, Japan, during the post-war period of reconstruction, immediately after the detonation of an atomic bomb had effected considerable damage. This time the plot is partly autobiographical and the historical details are partly drawn from direct experience - Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki in 1954, slightly later than the exact period he covers in the novel.

The novels are written in first person perspective, and Ishiguro permits his choice of narrator to carry all the bias common to human beings. Often his characters refuse to face realities to which the reader is made aware by the behaviour if not the thoughts of the individual character. For example, in The Remains of the Day, Stephens - a butler - struggles to reconcile himself between the call of duty, and to the allure of romance. In the process of writing, Ishiguro makes full use of real historical people on the stage of his narration. Thus in The Remains of the Day Lord Darlington appears as the hero's employer, but in a historical sense, he was an actual figure of prominence in England prior to the war, as were many of the dignitaries entertained in The Remains of the Day.

His novels end with a paradox. The issues his characters confront are buried in the past, and the problems those issues have caused cannot be resolved. Thus Ishiguro ends many of his novels with an atmosphere of depressing resignation, whereby the characters accept what has happened, and who they have become, and find in that realisation a relief from mental anguish.

Books by Kazuo Ishiguro