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Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro

Japanese-born british author

Sir Kazuo Ishiguro OBE FRSA FRSL (/kæˈzuːoʊ ˌɪʃɪˈɡʊəroʊ, ˈkæzuoʊ -/; born 8 November 1954) is a British novelist, screenwriter, musician, and short-story writer. He was born in Nagasaki, Japan, and moved to Britain in 1960 with his parents when he was five.

A graduate of the University of East Anglia, Ishiguro is one of the most celebrated contemporary fiction authors writing in English. His first two novels, A Pale View of Hills and An Artist of the Floating World, were noted for their explorations of Japanese identity and their elegiac tone. He thereafter explored other genres, including science fiction and historical fiction. He has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize four times, winning the prize in 1989 for his novel The Remains of the Day, which was adapted into a film of the same name in 1993. Salman Rushdie praised the novel as Ishiguro's masterpiece, in which he "turned away from the Japanese settings of his first two novels and revealed that his sensibility was not rooted in any one place, but capable of travel and metamorphosis". Time named Ishiguro's science fiction novel Never Let Me Go as the best novel of 2005 and one of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005.

In 2017, the Swedish Academy awarded Ishiguro the Nobel Prize in Literature, describing him in its citation as a writer "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world"

Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, on 8 November 1954, the son of Shizuo Ishiguro, a physical oceanographer, and his wife, Shizuko. In 1960, Ishiguro moved with his family to Guildford, Surrey, as his father was invited for research at the National Institute of Oceanography (now the National Oceanography Centre). He did not return to visit Japan until 1989, nearly 30 years later, when he was a participant in the Japan Foundation Short-Term Visitors' Program.

In an interview with Kenzaburō Ōe, Ishiguro stated that the Japanese settings of his first two novels were imaginary: "I grew up with a very strong image in my head of this other country, a very important other country to which I had a strong emotional tie … In England I was all the time building up this picture in my head, an imaginary Japan."

Ishiguro, who has been described as a British Asian author, explained in a BBC interview how growing up in a Japanese family in the UK was crucial to his writing, enabling him to see things from a different perspective from that of many of his English peers.

He attended Stoughton Primary School and then Woking County Grammar School in Surrey. Ishiguro sang solos as a choirboy with his church and school choirs.He also enjoyed music as a teenager, listening to songs by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and, particularly, Bob Dylan. Ishiguro began learning guitar and writing songs, and initially aimed to become a professional songwriter.After finishing school in 1973 he took a gap year and travelled through the United States and Canada, writing a journal and sending demo tapes to record companies. He also worked as a grouse beater at Balmoral Castle.Ishiguro later reflected on his ephemeral songwriting career, saying, "I used to see myself as some sort of musician type but there came a point when I thought: actually, this isn't me at all. I'm much less glamorous. I'm one of these people with corduroy jackets with elbow patches. It was a real comedown."

In 1974, he began studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury, graduating in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts (honours) in English and philosophy.After spending a year writing fiction, he resumed his studies at the University of East Anglia where he studied with Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter on the UEA Creative Writing Course, gaining the degree of Master of Arts in 1980.His thesis became his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, published in 1982.

He gained British citizenship in 1983.


November 8, 1954
Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki.


Further Resources



Will Knight
March 8, 2021
The Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro talks to WIRED about AI, CRISPR, and his hopes for humanity.
Arifa Akbar
March 1, 2021
the Guardian
In a drama written by artificial intelligence, the computer's imagination touches on themes of love and loneliness - but is mostly obsessed with sex
Adam Rogers
March 4, 2020
Alex Garland fused science and philosophy in "Ex Machina" and "Annihilation." His new TV show tackles quantum computing--and Big Tech's dark side.
Robert D. McFadden | NYT
January 1, 2020
Read more about Sonny Mehta, venerable publisher known for spotting great books, dies at 77 on Business Standard. He published the work of nine Nobel literature laureates, including Kazuo Ishiguro's 'Remains of the Day' (1989), and of winners of Pulitzer and Booker prizes and National Book Awards
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