Ishiguro, Kazuo

Tagged: Author

(1954-    ) Japanese-born author in the UK since 1960, active as a novelist of fictions edgily though decreasingly obedient to the strictures against the fantastic maintained (in the twentieth century) by the insecure British literary establishment: indeed, since the publication of his most famous tale, The Remains of the Day (1989), none of his subsequent novels has adhered to traditional canons of realism. The protagonist of perhaps the most ambitious of these, The Unconsoled (1995), visits an unnamed Central European City whose contours are an ominous echolalia of his interior state. Though the narrative evokes Franz Kafka in the dreamlike recursions and seeming distractions that mark its narrator's seemingly no-exit hegira through his world [for Arabian Nightmare see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], a reading of the tale as relentlessly literal (see Fantastika) generates a sense – as the cover of the UK edition clearly hints – that the protagonist is somehow in control of his exfoliating encounters: that he is like the Secret Master who controls the moves of the passive-aggressive cast across an immense Board Game: though, unlike the protagonist of Groundhog Day (1993), he does not in the end awaken to save himself. When We Were Orphans (2000) presents a not-dissimilar search for meaning in terms increasingly surreal, within the frame of an assumption that when the protagonist solves his past the world of the future will be saved.

Never Let Me Go (2005) is a tale of Clones set in an Alternate History 1990s England, where children – like the narrator herself – are bred as organ donors (see Organlegging); it was filmed as Never Let Me Go (2010). The quietness of Ishiguro's subtle sf narrative does nothing to disguise the ultimate savagery of the world he depicts, a world which, constructed as it is on the premise that some lives are more valuable than others, may be difficult at times to distinguish from ours. The Buried Giant (2015) is conducted in a narrative voice of uncanny calm (it is at least in part the voice of a chthonic boatman, who ferries humans across a dark river), and movingly describes the quest of an old married couple for their lost child through a Britain haunted by revived ogres and doomed caricature knights in the aftermath of Camelot [for Arthur, Gawain, Matter and Myth of Origin again see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. [JC]

Kazuo Ishiguro

born Nagasaki, Japan: 8 November 1954


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