So was I ever so pleasantly surprised to hear that this year’s honor was awarded to fabulously talented and diverse Japanese-English novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. My author buddy Kim Golden put out an excellent post praising Ishiguro .
Like Kim, I first read Ishiguro with what is probably his most famous work, The Remains of the Day. I loved this story of Stevens, a dutiful British butler, who has invested all of his energies, talents and considerable loyalties into a position (and a world) that is rapidly changing around him in the lead-up to World War II.
His intense admiration and respect for his well-bred employer and his social class allows him to brush aside doubts about the nobleman’s political ideology, or his employer’s naive views about international relations that so easily transform the hapless lord into a pawn. This absolute dedication to a fading way of life also leads him to miss the signs when a new opportunity for his own happiness presents itself. This beautiful book was also made into a not-to-be-missed film, with a stellar cast of Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and the late Christopher Reeves.
After The Remains of the Day, I went on to read Ishiguro’s earlier, lyrical ‘Japanese novels’: A Pale View of the Hills and An Artist of the Floating World. I also loved his musically-inspired short story collection Nocturnes. But it was his science fiction/deeply disturbing novel Never Let Me Go that became my second favorite Ishiguro work. This was also made into an excellent film, but the movie couldn’t possibly rival the gnawing horror you feel as you read the novel and the rules of this society and its intense indoctrination become apparent. And I don’t even generally like science fiction…
Brilliant selection by the Nobel panel this year in choosing this talented and versatile writer. Bravissimo, Kazuo Ishiguro!