Monday, April 18, 2011

Author Spotlight: Kazuo Ishiguro

A beautiful writer, albeit more British than Japanese, is Kazuo Ishiguro.

His masterful character-studies are completely involving. Whether the story is seen through the eyes of a butler (Remains of the Day), or a human Guinea pig (Never Let Me Go), the proceedings are flawlessly executed.

Ishiguro isn't called a modern master for nothing. These books read like Dickensian classics set in recent times, and deserve every award they've won.

The outlook and style is very mature and often heavy-going, but the vividness of the characters is second to none, and totally inescapable.

Over the years Ishiguro has written disappointingly few books, but I urge you to read them all asap. There are also a couple of movie adaptations. Results have been mixed, but Anthony Hopkins' performance in Remains of the Day (also one of the best books) is still a classic.

I'd also recommend An Artist of the Floating World; something of a retrospective on Japan during WWII.

If you're thinking of buying any of Ishiguro's books, then please help us out by doing so through Amazon (all earnings go to Tohoku victim support):

Contemporary Writers page about Ishiguro.


  1. Probably my top three are The Unconsoled, Remains of the Day, and When We Were Orphans, in that order. I love The Unconsoled.

  2. The Unconsoled is one of the few I haven't read. I saw it in Maruzei the other day, but it was stupidly expensive. Any tips on finding cheap books in Japan would be appreciated. I smell a future post.

  3. Maybe not quite the answer you're looking for, but getting a Kindle has dramatically increased my access to reasonably priced books.

  4. Oh, I see from another post that you have a Kindle. Any reason why you're not using it to get cheap books?

  5. I am using it, but I have to say that the price difference isn't that great. Last week I paid 1,100yen for Real World by Kirino Natsuo, which I saw in print the day before for 1,600. It's a little cheaper, but still really expensive. If I lived in the UK still, I could buy the book used for 1 pence plus postage (400 yen).

    Nor is the availability that good, especially of more obscure titles. I love the fact that you can get hundreds of the classics for free from Amazon, but newer books by lesser-known authors are pretty elusive. I'm sure this will change in the near future, however, and I'm completely in love with the Kindle.

  6. If I wasn't in a small town in Japan, I'd probably use the library a lot more. When I lived in Chiba, the Chiba prefectural library was great, but I don't have anything like that near me, so it was really good to get a Kindle.

    It's true that prices and availability are a bit mixed, but I think there's quite a lot out there now, and as you say, the situation will probably get better in the future.

    Oh, and free classics are indeed good, but I tend to go straight to Manybooks rather than using Amazon.