Kazuo Ishiguro won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature, and was knighted by the British monarch a year later. He is best known for the novels The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, both of which have been turned into films. His latest novel, Klara and the Sun, is set in a dystopian world and told through the lens of an emotionally intelligent and often surprising android.
Although he has only written nine books, his writing has been widely translated and acclaimed by readers and critics around the world. Winning the Nobel comes with around $1.1 million USD in prize money, and a lasting legacy.
Born in Japan in 1954, Ishiguro's family moved to Britain when he was five and he went on to study English and philosophy at the University of Kent. He then studied creative writing at the University of East Anglia, where his tutors included author Malcolm Bradbury. His MA thesis was turned into his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, published in 1982. The novel is about a Japanese woman living in England struggling to come to terms with the death of her daughter.
Ishiguro won the Booker Prize in 1989 for The Remains of the Day. It tells the story of a butler whose employer was a Nazi sympathizer. The Booker victory confirmed his standing as a leading light in a new generation of British novelists.
Published in 2005, Never Let Me Go tells the story a group of students at a boarding school living in a dystopian future. The film version starred Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan. Never Let Me Go turned Ishiguro into an international superstar in literary circles.
Ishiguro has a distinct writing style featuring restrained prose. His novels are often narrated in the first person by unreliable narrators. Like many great writers, what isn't said on the page is what really matters in his plots. The reader needs to grasp the difference between perception and reality. He has an acute grasp of Britain's lingering class system.
He is comfortable switching between genres. The Buried Giant is a fantasy story set in Arthurian Britain. The Unconsoled is a surreal-like novel about a pianist in an unnamed European city. When We Were Orphans could be considered a detective novel.
Ishiguro was named an OBE in 1995. Past winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature include T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Alice Munro, Saul Bellow, Ernest Hemingway, Gabriel García Márquez and Toni Morrison. Musician Bob Dylan was the controversial winner in 2016.