Kazuo Ishiguro: A Writer Worth Reading

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Lately the television world was smothered in Olympics madness, so none of my favorite shows have been on. As such, I decided to actually read a book again, and was pleased to rediscover an author you should all obsess over, my Internet friends. Born in Nagasaki, but raised in the UK, this pristinely skilled novelist is well worth a literary exploration. Just as a disclaimer, though, his novels ain’t all smiley.

Kazuo Ishiguro

At present, the most likely scenario is that you’ve seen or at least heard of the film, Never Let Me Go, a dystopian flavored alternate future in which clones are used as organ transplant vessels and small contingencies of folks try to humanize said clones at special academies. The story, a crushing, introspective look at a weirdly possible future, doesn’t translate that magnificently to film, but the original novel, Ishiguro’s latest, is mind-bogglingly good. So, if you’ve been acquainted with the film and not thought much of it, the book is worth a few reads at least.

Never Let Me Go, although Ishiguro’s most recent novel, is actually a decent place to start with the novelist. It’s meticulously crafted and beautifully somber, much like the other five novels in the writer’s bibliography. Ishiguro’s work is marked by very detailed prose, careful narration (the littlest moments are turned over and over in characters’ minds), and themes such as inaction and reconciliation with often unfulfilling pasts. The writer chooses to write in the first person, and each character he graces us with carries an emotional richness that unfolds at a gracefully glacial pace.

For new readers, Never Let Me Go (one of several of his nominated for a Booker prize) is probably the best to start with because of its relatability and peppering of science fiction, but his other novels and short stories are also brutally amazing. Remains of the Day, arguably his best novel in terms of literary richness and style, is a gorgeous novel about a butler named Stevens who recounts many a memory of his time in the profession, slowly revealing his pains and regrets in the process. Winner of the 1989 Booker, this novel is a lush and sad story that deserves two readings at least.

Kazuo Ishiguro

The Unconsoled is another of Ishiguro’s titles that is nonsensically amazing. Seriously, this novel is mind blowing, so much so that book critics panned it upon its release. The novel, which follows a piano virtuoso named Ryder’s odd experiences in a mysterious central European town, has a surreal, almost real time style that is not easy at first, but will surely suck you in. Critics were unhappy with the book, because it was weirder and harder to follow than Ishiguro’s other, more straightforward stories, but Ishiguro’s fourth novel is a crazy, fantastical ride that will question your own memories and make you wonder if you’ve ever really been conscious at all (maybe that’s just me).

Ishiguro’s other novels include A Pale View of Hills and An Artist of the Floating World, two lovely narratives based in Japan and showing the writer’s early obsession with the past; there’s also When We Were Orphans, most likely his weakest, but still a very well-written and entertaining detective story that deals with many of his constant themes. If you don’t have time to read an entire book (because of all your business meetings and the Internet), try getting ahold of Ishiguro’s collection of short stories, Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall.

In this day and age, media moves really, really quickly, so it’s difficult to plop down into an armchair and crack open an analog paper object (Kindle’s are still weird to me), even more so if the book is slower in pace. Ishiguro, though, is well worth the time spent curled up and turning pages the old way. His narratives tenderly draw you in, and almost politely invite you to join in the reflection of any of his narrators. Ishiguro’s style tiptoes around brutal truths and harsh realizations of the past in a way that shows the writer to be a true master. Seriously, Internet friends, take some time and read everything this guy’s ever written. You won’t regret it (and if you do, then maybe he’ll turn that same feeling into unparalleled art).

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