Kazuo Ishiguro wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Kazuo Ishiguro has written eight books, including The Remains Of The Day, which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989.
Kazuo Ishiguro has written eight books, including The Remains Of The Day, which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

STOCKHOLM • British author Ka-zuo Ishiguro has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for what the prize committee in Sweden said were works that uncovered "the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".

The committee said on Twitter that the Japan-born Ishiguro, 62, who moved to Britain with his parents when he was five years old, was most associated with the themes of memory, time and self-delusion.

"If you mix Jane Austen and Franz Kafka, then you have Kazuo Ishiguro in a nutshell, but you have to add a little bit of Marcel Proust into the mix," Ms Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said yesterday. "Then you stir, but not too much, then you have his writings."

Ms Danius described Ishiguro as "a writer of great integrity".

"He doesn't look to the side," she said. "He has developed an aesthetic universe all his own."

Ishiguro has written eight books, which have been translated into more than 40 languages. He called the award "flabbergastingly flattering", the BBC reported soon after the announcement.

Though he admitted to the BBC he had not been contacted by the Nobel committee, he said: "It's a magnificent honour, mainly because it means that I'm in the footsteps of the greatest authors that have lived, so that's a terrific commendation."

Ishiguro began to gain attention in the early 1980s for works such as A Pale View Of Hills.

The Remains Of The Day, perhaps his best-known work, won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989 and was turned into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Anthony Hopkins as a fastidious and repressed butler in post-war Britain.

"Ishiguro's writings are marked by a carefully restrained mode of expression, independent of whatever events are taking place," the prize committee wrote in a statement after the announcement.

The award of the 9 million krona (S$1.5 million) prize marks a return to a more mainstream interpretation of literature after it went to American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, 76, last year. Ishiguro will receive his prize at a formal ceremony in Stockholm on Dec 10.

Ishiguro's friend and fellow British novelist Salman Rushdie sent his congratulations via The Guardian daily.

"Many congratulations to my old friend Ish, whose work I've loved and admired ever since I first read A Pale View Of Hills. And he plays the guitar and writes songs, too! Roll over Bob Dylan," said Rushdie, who was a contender for last year's prize.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Kazuo Ishiguro wins Nobel Prize in Literature'. Print Edition | Subscribe