Hi guys, I hope you are all well. As you can tell from the title, it’s time for another author exploration post. This time I’m going to be talking about Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve been a fan of this author for quite some time and have read most of his books. He is a British author, who published his first book in 1982. He was born in Nagasaki, Japan but his family moved to Britain when he was young. Ishiguro has written 7 books, 1 short story collection and various screenplays and short fictions. In 2017 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature and in 2019 he received a Knighthood for services to literature. His books often deals with themes such as memory, loss, social expectations and identity. Unreliable narrators also play a large role in his books. Simple plots mean that the main focus is on the main character and their reflections on their respective circumstances. Onto my thoughts of each of his books.
A Pale View of Hills /★★★
This was Ishiguro’s debut book and was originally released in 1982. While I enjoyed this debut, I didn’t love it as much as some of his other books. I will say that this is quite a vague book in some ways, so if you are a fan of straightforward plots and neatly solved mysteries than this may not be for you. You are given the bare bones of plot and it is up to you interpret the events of the book. As this is his debut, I would say that it is not quite written with the same skill as his later books but it is still well worth a read.
An Artist of the Floating World / ★★★★
Originally published in 1986, this was one of the first books I read by him. In this one we get a look at post-war Japan and we follow the main character, Masuji Ono. It is a pretty slow read but it never dragged for me. The writing and characters pull you through the story. As with a lot of Ishiguro books, this one contains an unreliable narrator. The setting of post war Japan is so well done and I found it quite interesting. I definitely recommend checking it out. As this was one of the first Ishiguro books I read, I think this may be a good one to start with to try out his works.
The Remains of the Day /★★★★
Originally published in 1989. The Remains of the Day is set in post World War 2 England, and follows Mr Stevens, a middle-aged butler working at Darlington Hall, as he sets out on a road trip across the countryside to visit a former co-worker and friend. Once again, Ishiguro has created an unreliable narrator in Mr Stevens. He is an interesting character but you are never quite sure whether he is telling us all the details. Due to the nature of this book, the pacing is quite slow and it did drag a little in places for me. I will say I wasn’t as invested in the characters or story as some of his other works but I did still enjoy this book. This may be a good place to start with if you want to try out Ishiguro’s works.
The Unconsoled / Unread
Originally published in 1995. Goodreads synopsis: Ryder, a renowned pianist, arrives in a Central European city he cannot identify for a concert he cannot remember agreeing to give. But then as he traverses a landscape by turns eerie and comical – and always strangely malleable, as a dream might be – he comes steadily to realise he is facing the most crucial performance of his life.
When We Were Orphans / ★★★
Originally published in 2000, this was probably one of the weaker books in my opinion. The writing is, of course, fantastic and the characters are well written, but something just didn’t quite work for me. The pacing was uneven and there were some elements of the plot that didn’t make senses to me. Overall if you’re a fan of Ishiguro’s work then you will probably enjoy this, but if you are new to his work then I wouldn’t recommend this book to start with. I think Ishiguro himself has said that this is his weakest novel. Don’t quote me on that though. I did enjoy it, but I didn’t love it.
Never Let Me Go / ★★★★★
Originally published in 2005, this is my favourite book by Ishiguro. I actually first read it in school as part of my English literature course and I have loved it ever since. I’m not going to talk much about this one because it’s the type of book you should go into relatively blind. The main strength of this book is the well written characters and their relationships with each other. If you are looking for a unique science fiction book then you should definitely check this book out. Overall I love this book and I would recommend it to everyone. Since it is my favourite I think this is a great place to start with Ishiguro’s works and it will give you a good idea of his writing style.
Nocturnes / ★★★
Originally published in 2009, this is a short story collection featuring five stories which all have music as a focus. I enjoyed some more than others but all of them are written well with familiar Ishiguro themes. Although short story collections can be a good way to introduce yourself to an author’s writing style, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one. I personally found some of the stories a little weak and I just didn’t love this collection as much as I wanted to. Still worth checking out though, especially if you enjoy short story collections and/or enjoy Ishiguro’s works.
The Buried Giant / ★★★★
Originally published in 2015. This one is set in 6th century Britain, after the Romans left. If you expect this to be like other Ishiguro books, then you are in for a surprise and perhaps a little disappointment. This is unlike any of his other works, however like his other works it does focus heavily on memories and what they mean to us. It did have a slow start for me and it did drag a little in the middle, but overall I thought this was a great book. I loved the setting and premise of this book. It is set in this world covered in some of mist and the entire village is experiencing strange memory loss. We are defined by our memories, so it is interesting premise to take that away. Overall I really liked this one but it is quite different to his other works.
As you can probably tell, I’m a fan of Kazuo Ishiguro, although some of his books have been quite mixed for me. Have you guys read any of his books? I’d love to know what you all thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.