Nobel Prize in Literature 2017: Ishiguro Who?

It has been a whole year since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. After that controversy, people went as far as betting on Kanye West and Donald Trump this time round.

In case you weren’t too sure, the Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to an individual who has produced the most outstanding work in the field. The most likely candidates for the prize this year included the Kenyan novelist Ngūgī wa Thiong’o and the popular Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, both leading the Bookmakers odds. Another favourite was Margaret Atwood. Her dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale suddenly shot to fame when it got its own TV series this year.

In keeping with their style though, the panel yet again decided to go with an unexpected winner: British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. Now lets face it, most of us don’t know who he is, and whatever happened to our favourite Murakami? A look into Ishiguro’s life and works though made us realise that we certainly ought to know him, and ought to be reading him too.

Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan in 1954 and moved to England at the age of five. He graduated from the University of Kent with a degree in English and Philosophy in 1978, then earned his Masters in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

He has written eight novels. The Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize stating that his books “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world” and were driven by a “great emotional force”. His two most notable books are:

The Remains of The Day

Ishiguro is best known for this novel. The Remains of the Day won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989. It takes the form of diary recollections by an English butler, focusing mostly on his personal relationship with the housekeeper Miss Kenton. A film adaptation of the novel, starring Anthony Hopkins, was made in 1993.  The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go, a dystopian science fiction novel, is arguably Ishiguro’s most popular novel. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize, for the 2006 Arthur C. Clarke Award and for the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award. It was also named by Time Magazine as the best novel of 2005 and was included in its list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005.

In his telephone interview after the announcement of the prize he states “I come in the line of lots of my greatest heroes. The greatest authors in history have received this Prize.” He also mentioned that the announcement took him ‘completely by surprise’, and that he was at first convinced the news was fake. What made him particularly happy is to have won it the year after Bob Dylan, who he says has been his ‘hero since the age of 13’. He also claims he does a very good impersonation of him.

We don’t know about the impersonation but he does seem to know a thing or two about writing. We at the Literature section certainly know which books we’re going to be reading next.



By Fawzia Morad Elmasry 

All picture credits: Google Images

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