Kazuo Ishiguro & His Ability To Trace The Intricacy of Human Emotions

Sir Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄), OBE, FRSA, FRSL is a British author, screenwriter & musician. Ishiguro holds the ability to move his readers by writing about human memory in the most graceful manner. He is well renowned for his ability to meticulously encapsulate the fleetingness along with the profound complexities of human emotions & thoughts. Ishiguro was awarded with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Majority of his novels are usually inclined towards the first person narration by an unreliable protagonist delving deeper and deeper into the parts of their life. Throughout his narration, Ishiguro uses passive language suggesting that human memory is more often than not fragile and unreliable. Moreover, the organisation of his writing has a vast space for the readers to piece together the incidents on their own despite those incidents being chronological to plot, even though loosely.

Ishiguro is highly appreciated for the way he organises and writes the proses in his novels. He is an eminent among the readers and the writers' community for his wonderful talent of being able to pragmatically capture the nuances of the personas that a human being carries. With the help of his seasoned command over his writing skills, he writes about life, in general but essentially, as mentioned earlier, he likes to write and delve deeper when it comes to memory. Having tried many distinct genres in his literary career, his style is mostly influenced by the themes that he writes and touches upon as he says that he  “tends to write the same book over and over again”.

The way Ishiguro uses prose helps in characterising the narrator. Throughout the setting of his novels, the protagonist is essentially engaged in conversations with the readers. Moreover, he also uses a lot of dialogues with the hope of building the temperament of his other characters. His use of literary devices is never too much or over the top, it is usually just unembellished hyperboles and metaphors of everyday speech. In addition to his novels and screenplays, Ishiguro received attention as a songwriter. He wrote multiple songs on singer Stacey Kent's album "Breakfast on the Morning Tram". Most of those songs breezed like little stories that conveyed profound emotions with tender imagery.

Ishiguro writes extensively about memory which is why his novels are made up of a variety of closely related themes. These themes range from displacement and blame in An Artist of the Floating World, to loss in When We Were Orphans and A Pale View of Hills, to delusion and directionlessness in Remains of the Day, and eventually to nostalgia, love, friendship in Never Let Me Go. 

Kazuo Ishiguro books exhibition
Kazuo Ishiguro in the Stockholm Stock Exchange during the Swedish Academy's press conference on December 6, 2017 / Image via Wiki Commons

Ishiguro's parents were massively impacted by the two world wars which had shaken up the world. Ishiguro's father witnessed the second sino-japanese closely which is why his father's experiences are illustrated in Ishiguro's novel When We Were Orphans which was set in Shanghai, China between the 1930s and 40s. On the contrary, Ishiguro's mother survived the Nagasaki nuclear weapon which became the central theme that he chose to divulge into in his first novel A Pale View of Hills.

Ishiguro was raised in post-war circumstances. Despite the fact that he didn't spend much time in Japan and has no memory of it whatsoever,  Ishiguro was able to map out his own version of Japan at a tender age. It is significant to mention that almost all of his upbringing was done in post-war England which was going through some major long term changes. Due to this very reason of Ishiguro's consistent exposure to the post-war environments, the concept of social change due to political tumult is a repetitive theme in all of his works heavily charged with emotions.


Written by Ayusshi

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