Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan on November 8, 1954. In 1960, his family moved to England. He received a bachelor's degree in English and philosophy from the University of Kent in 1978 and a master's degree in creative writing from the University of East Anglia in 1980. He became a British citizen in 1982.
His first novel, A Pale View of Hills, received the Winifred Holtby Award from the Royal Society of Literature. His second novel, An Artist of the Floating World, received the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1986. His third novel, The Remains of the Day, received the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989 and was adapted into a film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. His other works include The Unconsoled, When We Were Orphans, Never Let Me Go, Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, and The Buried Giant. He was awarded the OBE in 1995 for services to literature and the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1998. He received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. He has also written several songs for jazz singer Stacey Kent and screenplays for both film and television.
(Bowker Author Biography)
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Updated on May 19, 2015
13. ‘An Artist of the Floating World’ by Kazuo Ishiguro
This is my third Ishiguro book and probably my least favourite. It has the same calm, melancholic voice that is so characteristic of Ishiguro, but I didn’t find the premise of Floating World as engaging as Never Let Me Go or The Remains of the Day.
Masuji Ono, the narrator, is now an old man, looking back on his life as a famous artist in Japan. He reflects on his childhood, his tutelage under the artist Mori-san, and the career that catapulted him into fame (and infamy). During the chaos of the war years in the 1940s, Ono becomes involved with shady ideologies and, although he has now regained his good reputation, his past threatens to jeopardise his daughter’s marriage plans.
I didn’t find the characters in this book particularly engaging: Ono’s grandson Ichiro was probably the most interesting, but there’s a fine line between writing a child who is confident and one who is irritating. Also, I usually love Ishiguro’s subtlety but here it felt a little too overdone; the ‘problem’ from Ono’s past is referred to only very obliquely, so I felt like I missed out on a big revelation. All in all the story kind of drifted past me – it didn’t have the usual heartwrenching impact of Ishiguro’s other novels and I was really hoping it would.
Still, this is a pleasant book with some interesting ideas. The ‘floating world’ of the title is a particularly beautiful theme: it is the transient world of the night, laughter, drinking and pleasure, and one artist’s struggle between the ease of decadence and his desire to change the world.
If you liked my review, why not read the book and let me know what you think?
Category: Review Tags: 2014, calligraphy, e-book, family saga, fiction, japan, kazuo ishiguro, literary, novel, uk