Japan-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go and A Pale View of Hills, is 2017’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The novelist was praised by the Swedish Academy as a writer “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.
On living on cultural peripheries:
Ishiguro left Japan in 1960 at the age of 5 and did not return to visit until 1989, nearly 30 years later, as a participant in the Japan Foundation Short-Term Visitors Program. In an interview with Kenzaburō Ōe, Ishiguro acknowledged that the Japanese settings of his first two novels were imaginary: “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 … In England I was all the time building up this picture in my head, an imaginary Japan.”
When discussing his Japanese heritage and its influence on his upbringing, the author has stated, “I’m not entirely like English people because I’ve been brought up by Japanese parents in a Japanese-speaking home. My parents didn’t realize that we were going to stay in this country for so long, they felt responsible for keeping me in touch with Japanese values. I do have a distinct background. I think differently, my perspectives are slightly different.” When asked to what extent he identifies as either Japanese or English the author insists, “People are not two-thirds one thing and the remainder something else. Temperament, personality, or outlook don’t divide quite like that. The bits don’t separate clearly. You end up a funny homogeneous mixture. This is something that will become more common in the latter part of the century—people with mixed cultural backgrounds, and mixed racial backgrounds. That’s the way the world is going.”
His latest—his first novel in a decade—is the historical fantasy The Buried Giant, set in Arthurian times.