Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Nocturnes

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Nocturnes

Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2009, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2010, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

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Kazuo Ishiguro
Born in Nagasaki, Japan on November 8, 1954, Kazuo Ishiguro moved to Britain in 1960 at the age of five when his father began research at the National Institute of Oceanography. His family had not expected to stay, but ended up making Britain their home. He was educated at a grammar school for boys in Surrey, and later read English and Philosophy at the University of Kent, Canterbury, during which time he was also employed as a community worker in Glasgow (1976). After graduating, he worked as a residential social worker in London and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he met his early mentor, Angela Carter.

Ishiguro is the author of three stories published in Introductions 7: Stories by New Writers (1981), and the novels A Pale View of Hills (1982), winner of the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize; An Artist of the Floating World (1986), winner of the 1986 Whitbread Book of the Year award, the Primio Scanno, and a Booker Prize nominee; and The Remains of the Day (1989), winner of the Booker Prize in 1989 and the basis for the 1993 film featuring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

He is also the author of the novels The Unconsoled (1995); When We Were Orphans (2000), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Never Let Me Go (2005), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and provides the inspiration for the 2010 film of the same name starring Keira Knightley; and the short-story collection Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (2009).

In addition, he has written two screenplays for Channel 4 Television, A Profile of Arthur J. Mason, broadcast in 1984, and The Gourmet, broadcast in 1986, as well as the screenplay for the 2003 film The Saddest Music in the World, a melodrama set in the 1930s starring Isabella Rossellini. His work has been translated into approximately 40 languages.

The recipient of an Order of the British Empire for Services to Literature (1995) and the French Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1998), he is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Granta Magazine nominated him as one of the 20 "Best of Young British Writers" (1983).

Ishiguro has also worked as a singer-songwriter, playing in clubs and sending demo tapes to producers. In a 2005 interview with The Guardian, he remarks, "I went through my purple-prose phase in my songwriting" and that the process served as an "apprenticeship" for his fiction. For the first time in nearly 30 years, he returned to his previous vocation to write the lyrics for jazz singer Stacey Kent's 2007 album Breakfast On the Morning Tram.

He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Listen to a 2009 interview with Ishiguro

Article by Karen Rigby

This article was originally published in November 2009, and has been updated for the September 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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