“In a time of uncertainty about the values of the world, its leaders and its security,” British writer Kazuo Ishiguro, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, hopes that the fact that someone like him receives this “Magnificent honor” to “encourage, even in a small way, the forces of benevolence and peace.”
The author of The Remains of the Day (1989) has received in London a group of journalists, still in a state of astonishment. “I was sitting in my kitchen, writing emails and getting ready for an early meal, when my agent called me and told me that he thought they were announcing that they had given me the Nobel Prize. But in these false news times, I did not believe it until I called the BBC. What they want, I’m an old-fashioned guy, “said the 62-year-old author. “I never believed myself a candidate. I thought it was something that happened to the old authors, and this has made me understand that I am already. It was a genuine surprise. Had I imagined it, I would have washed my hair at least, and would not have come directly from the kitchen to talk to you. “
The Nobel Prize for Ishiguro is a surprise, since his name did not appear in the pockets. He is the second consecutive English-language writer to get the Nobel Prize, after Bob Dylan last year. But the recognition of Ishiguro will undoubtedly be less controversial and less daring as he is an author of wide recognition who already has prestigious awards such as Booker.
The writer, born in Japan, is the author of novels such as ‘The remains of the day’
The Swedish Academy had been stretching the frontiers of literature for two years by rewarding Dylan, a composer, and Svetlana Alexievich, a journalist. With Ishiguro, he returns to the conventional channel of the hand of a novelist who, in addition, the successful adaptation to the cinema of two of his novels (What remains of the day and Never abandon me, in his titles on the screen) has allowed him to arrive to a mass audience.
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The jury has highlighted “his novels of great emotional strength that have discovered the abyss under our illusory sense of connection with the world.” Already since his first novel, Pale Light in the Hills (1982), Ishiguro’s prose has explored the conflicts between experience and memory. A theme that is even more evident in The Rest of the Day (1989), his third novel, which won the Booker Prize and whose film adaptation Anthony Hopkins played the butler who served an English aristocrat in the years before World War II. “In my career I have looked at individuals who suffer facing the memories of their past, something also applicable to communities and nations. As an author, one of the things that fascinates me is determining when it’s best to remember and when it’s best to forget, “he explained Thursday in London.
Born on 8 November 1954 in Nagasaki (Japan), Kazuo Ishiguro moved with his family to Surrey, England, at the age of five, where his father was offered a job as an oceanographer. His doorway to reading was the adventures of the very British Sherlock Holmes, who read as a child in the local library. He studied English literature and philosophy at the University of Kent. He then attended the prestigious postgraduate degree in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, where he had teachers from Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter.
A bold and meticulous writer, he is the author of seven novels, written in English, all published in Spanish by Anagram. The last one, The Buried Giant, also explores, on this occasion from the fantasy genre, how memory is related to forgetting, history with the present and fiction with reality. He has also signed books of stories and scripts of cinema and television. Dylan’s admirer, his predecessor on the Nobel list, plays guitar and has written lyrics for jazz singer Stacey Kent.
Sara Danius, secretary of the Swedish Academy, has resorted to describing her style to Jane Austen, Kafka and Proust. “They are important writers for me,” Ishiguro admitted. “But Charlotte Brontë is the most influential Victorian novelist. Kafka opened many possibilities for me. One part of Proust finds it boring and snobbish, but when it’s good it’s absolutely incredible. “
Along with Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Hanif Kureishi, Salman Rushdie or Julian Barnes, Ishiguro belongs to the generation of British novelists who, in the 1980s, renewed the Anglo-Saxon narrative. Their commercial success gave them a popularity that transcended the narrow limits of the literary world, and which Ishiguro has always tried to shun. He has never ceased to express himself, through sporadic articles in the press, on current issues such as Brexit, with which he has been very critical.
“I’m not a journalist, my role is not to comment on the news but to take a step back,” he warned. “But we are in uncertain times. We all have the responsibility to be part of what happens in the world. One of our tasks is to determine where our public responsibilities begin and end. Many people have lost confidence and suffer to find their way. I hope literature will do it. “