After eight novels and years of hard work, Japan-born British author Kazuo Ishiguro, “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world,” is this year’s recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Born in Nagasaki in 1954, Ishiguro moved to the UK with his family at the age of five. His father, an oceanographer, had been offered a position at the National Institute of Oceanography. The family settled in Surrey, where Ishiguro studied at Stoughton Primary School before proceeding to Woking County Grammar School. Before entering university, Ishiguro took a gap year to travel to parts of Canada and the United States.
Ishiguro attended the University of Kent at Canterbury, taking up bachelors of arts in English and philosophy, and eventually graduated with honors. He spent a year writing and then pursued a master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he met Angela Carter. He later published his thesis as his first novel, A Pale View of Hills. Since then, Ishiguro has been writing full time.
In 1989, Ishiguro returned to Japan as part of the Japan Foundation Short-Term Visitors program. Despite having been brought up in a household that values Japanese culture and speaks Japanese, he had not been able to return until then.
In his debut novel, A Pale View of Hills, Ishiguro tells the story of a middle-aged Japanese woman named Etsuko, who currently resides in England. In the novel, she and her daughter Niki discuss the recent suicide of her other daughter, Keiko.
The Remains of the Day (1989) is about the life of a butler named Stevens. The novel is mostly about Stevens’s professional and personal relationship with the housekeeper, Ms. Kenton. It was awarded the 1989 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. In 1993, it was adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The film received eight Academy Award nominations.
Never Let Me Go is a science fiction novel published in 2005. The novel is about the lives of three friends: Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. It starts with their childhood and ends with the fulfilment of their purpose. At first, it may seem that the three are normal people, but later on, it is revealed that they are students of Hailsham, a boarding school that houses and raises cloned humans who will later provide vital organs to the outside world. Never Let Me Go was adapted into a film in 2010, starring Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield as Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, respectively. Later on, the novel was adapted for television and for the stage in Japan.
The Buried Giant (2015), Ishiguro’s latest novel, is set after Arthurian Britain. In this period, the Britons and Saxons lived together. The novel is about an elderly married couple, Axl and Beatrice, who are searching for the long-lost son of whom they have no memories.
Ishiguro has written a total of eight novels and various other works in English and in other languages. Aside from the Nobel Prize for Literature, Ishiguro has been awarded a Man Booker Prize for The Remains of the Day, a Whitbread Prize for An Artist of the Floating World, and an Order of the British Empire (OBE).
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