Kazuo Ishiguro Biography & Facts
Sir Kazuo Ishiguro (; born 8 November 1954) is a British novelist, screenwriter, musician, and short-story writer. He was born in Nagasaki, Japan, and moved to Britain in 1960 together with his parents when he was five.
A graduate from the University of East Anglia, Ishiguro is one of the most celebrated contemporary fiction authors in English. His first two novels, A Pale View of Hills and An Artist of the Floating World, were noted for their explorations of Japanese identity and elegiac tone. Subsequently, he explored other genres, including science fiction and historical fiction. He has received four Man Booker Prize nominations and won the award in 1989 for his novel The Remains of the Day, which was adapted into a film of the same name in 1993. Fellow author Salman Rushdie has praised the novel as Ishiguro's masterpiece, in which he "turned away from the Japanese settings of his first two novels and revealed that his sensibility was not rooted in any one place, but capable of travel and metamorphosis". Time has named Ishiguro's science fiction novel Never Let Me Go the best novel of 2005 and one of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005.
In 2017, the Swedish Academy awarded Ishiguro the Nobel Prize in Literature, describing him in its citation as a writer "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".
Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, on 8 November 1954, the son of Shizuo Ishiguro, a physical oceanographer, and his wife, Shizuko. At the age of five, Ishiguro and his family left Japan and moved to Guildford, Surrey, as his father was invited for research at the National Institute of Oceanography (now the National Oceanography Centre). He did not return to visit Japan until 1989, nearly 30 years later, when he was a participant in the Japan Foundation Short-Term Visitors' Program.
In an interview with Kenzaburō Ōe, Ishiguro stated 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."Ishiguro, who has been described as a British Asian author, explained in a BBC interview how growing up in a Japanese family in the UK was crucial to his writing, enabling him to see things from a different perspective to that of many of his English peers.He attended Stoughton Primary School and then Woking County Grammar School in Surrey. Ishiguro sang solos as a choirboy at his church choir and school choir, and had a local fame due to the "angelic" qualities of his voice. He also enjoyed music as a teenager, listening to songs by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and, particularly, Bob Dylan. Ishiguro began learning guitar and writing songs, and initially aimed to become a professional songwriter. After finishing school in 1973, he took a gap year and travelled through the United States and Canada, all the while writing a journal and sending demo tapes to record companies. He also worked as a grouse beater for the Queen Mother at Balmoral Castle. Ishiguro later reflected on his ephemeral songwriting career, saying, "I used to see myself as some sort of musician type but there came a point when I thought: actually, this isn't me at all. I'm much less glamorous. I'm one of these people with corduroy jackets with elbow patches. It was a real comedown."In 1974, he began studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury, graduating in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts (honours) in English and philosophy. After spending a year writing fiction, he resumed his studies at the University of East Anglia where he studied with Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter, and gained a Master of Arts in creative writing in 1980. His thesis became his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, published in 1982.He naturalised as a British citizen in 1983.
Ishiguro set his first two novels in Japan; however, in several interviews, he said that he has little familiarity with Japanese writing and that his works bear little resemblance to Japanese fiction. In an interview in 1989, when discussing his Japanese heritage and its influence on his upbringing, he stated, "I'm not entirely like English people because I've been brought up by Japanese parents in a Japanese-speaking home. My parents (...) felt responsible for keeping me in touch with Japanese values. I do have a distinct background. I think differently, my perspectives are slightly different." In a 1990 interview, Ishiguro said, "If I wrote under a pseudonym and got somebody else to pose for my jacket photographs, I'm sure nobody would think of saying, 'This guy reminds me of that Japanese writer.'" Although some Japanese writers have had a distant influence on his writing—Jun'ichirō Tanizaki is the one he most frequently cites—Ishiguro has said that Japanese films, especially those of Yasujirō Ozu and Mikio Naruse, have been a more significant influence.
Some of Ishiguro's novels are set in the past. Never Let Me Go has science fiction qualities and a futuristic tone; however, it is set in the 1980s and 1990s, and takes place in a parallel world very similar to ours. His fourth novel, The Unconsoled, takes place in an unnamed Central European city. The Remains of the Day is set in the large country house of an English lord in the period surrounding World War II.An Artist of the Floating World is set in an unnamed Japanese city during the Occupation of Japan following the nation's surrender in 1945. The narrator is forced to come to terms with his part in World War II. He finds himself blamed by the new generation who accuse him of being part of Japan's misguided foreign policy, and is forced to confront the ideals of the modern times as represented by his grandson. Ishiguro said of his choice of time period, "I tend to be attracted to pre-war and postwar 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."With the exception of The Buried Giant, Ishiguro's novels are written in the first-person narrative style.Ishiguro's novels often end without resolution. The issues his characters confront are buried in the past and remain unresolved. Thus Ishiguro ends many of his novels on a note of melancholic resignation. His characters accept their past and who they have become, typically discovering that this realisation brings comfort and an ending to mental anguish. This can be seen as a literary reflection on the Japanese idea of mono no aware. Ishiguro counts Dostoyevsky and Proust amongst his influences. His works have also been compared to Salman Rushdie, Jane Austen, and Henry James, though Ishiguro himself rejects thes.... Discover the Kazuo Ishiguro popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Kazuo Ishiguro books.