Kazuo Ishiguro biography

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Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro Biography

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, on November, 8 1954. He came to Britain in 1960 when his father began research at the National Institute of Oceanography, and was educated at a grammar school for boys in Surrey.

Afterwards he worked as a grouse-beater for the Queen Mother at Balmoral before enrolling at the University of Kent, Canterbury, where he read English and Philosophy. He was also employed as a community worker in Glasgow (1976), and after graduating, worked as a residential social worker in London. He studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia where he met Angela Carter, who became an early mentor. He has been writing full-time since 1982. In 1983, shortly after the publication of his first novel, Ishiguro was nominated by Granta magazine as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Writers'. He was also included in the same promotion when it was repeated in 1993.

In 1981 three of his short stories were published in Introductions 7: Stories by New Writers. His first novel, A Pale View of Hills (1982), narrated by a Japanese widow living in England, draws on the destruction and rehabilitation of Nagasaki. It was awarded the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. It was followed by An Artist of the Floating World (1986), which explores Japanese national attitudes to the Second World War through the story of former artist Masuji Ono, haunted by his military past. It won the Whitbread Book of the Year award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction.

Ishiguro's third novel, The Remains of the Day (1989), is set in post-war England, and tells the story of an elderly English butler confronting disillusionment as he recalls a life spent in service. It was awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction and was subsequently made into an award-winning film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. His next novel, The Unconsoled (1995), a formally inventive narrative in which a concert pianist struggles to fulfil a schedule of rehearsals and performances in an unnamed European city, was awarded the Cheltenham Prize in 1995.

Ishiguro's fifth novel, When We Were Orphans (2000), is set in Shanghai in the early part of the twentieth century and is narrated by a private detective investigating his parents' disappearance in the city some 20 years earlier. It was shortlisted for both the Whitbread Novel Award and the Booker Prize for Fiction.

He has also written two original screenplays for Channel 4 Television, A Profile of Arthur J. Mason, and The Gourmet. He was awarded the OBE in 1995 for services to literature and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1998. His work has been translated into over 30 languages.

Ishiguro lives in London with his wife and daughter. His latest novel is Never Let Me Go (2005), and he collaborated with George Toles and Guy Maddin on the screenplay for The Saddest Music in the World, a melodrama set in the 1930s, starring Isabella Rossellini. In 2009, his first short story collection, Noctures: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, was published and shortlisted for the 2010 James Tait Back Memorial Prize (for fiction).



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Interview

In two separate interviews, Ishiguro talks about his books Never Let Me Go and When We Were Orphans.

What was your starting point for Never Let Me Go?
Over the last fifteen years I kept writing pieces of a story about an odd group of  "students" in the English countryside. I was never sure who these people were. I just knew they lived in wrecked farmhouses, and though they did a few typically student-like things—argued over books, worked on the occasional essay, fell in and out of love—there was no college campus or teacher anywhere in sight. I knew too that some strange fate hung over these young people, but I didn't know what. In my study at home, I have a lot of these short pieces, some going back as far as the early '90s. I'd wanted to write a novel about my students, but I'd never got any further; I'd always ended up writing some other quite different novel. Then around four years ago I heard a discussion on the radio about advances in biotechnology. I usually tune out when scientific discussions come on, but this time I listened, and the framework around these students of mine finally fell in place. I could see a way of writing a story that was simple, but very fundamental, about the sadness of the human condition.


This novel is set in a ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Kazuo Ishiguro at BookBrowse
The Buried Giant jacket Nocturnes jacket Never Let Me Go jacket When We Were Orphans jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Kazuo Ishiguro but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Tash Aw

    Tash Aw

    Tash Aw was born in Taipei to Malaysian parents. He grew up in Kuala Lumpur before moving to Britain to attend university. He is the author of three critically acclaimed novels – The Harmony Silk Factory (2005), which ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    When We Were Orphans

    Try:
    We, the Survivors
    by Tash Aw

  • Sally Beauman

    Sally Beauman

    Sally Beauman was born in England, in Devon, educated at a girls' school in the West Country, and then read English Literature at Girton College, Cambridge where she graduated in 1966 with an MA in English Literature.

    ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Never Let Me Go

    Try:
    The Sisters Mortland
    by Sally Beauman

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