Posted on December 22 2017
2017 would be the year Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel prize in literature — after Bob Dylan's win the previous year. The latter was celebrated and placed under scrutiny at the same time. How could a musician win? All he wrote were songs!
This brought up an old debate on whether music should be seen as poetry (as many poets and writers would agree). But what do readers and critics think of Ishiguro's win? Above all, what's his most famous book?
Never Let Me Go is a heartbreaking dystopian fiction about clones who were created to provide organs — a surprisingly human account of the experience given the plot. The genre was much argued about — with critics insisting that the book should not be labelled as fully science-fiction. Because of the many adaptations created after the book, many feel that this is the book that should come to mind when one mentions Ishiguro.
The Buried Giant famously led to a public spat with Ursula Le Guin. A seemingly harmless book about ogres, warriors and memory problems — its plot and characters cast in a fantasy setting (a genre placement that Ursula Le Guin would disagree with).
Next, When We Were Orphans is a crime/detective novel that places its characters in the midst of Second Sino-Japanese War. It describes the lives of warlords, concubines, foreigners and how Communism affected people who were trapped in the political and social uproar.
Throughout time, Kazuo Ishiguro's books have met critical analyses on their genre and styles of writing (and how appropriate that is to the themes chosen for each book). Perhaps he is celebrated not as the best writer of our century, but of how he manages to swim against the current — sometimes people forget that writers are artists and the mark of an excellent artist is one part determined your perseverance towards the craft.