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Exercises and Excesses

Frank Kermode: Kazuo Ishiguro

14 May 2009
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 221 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 0 571 24498 0
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... In this brilliant new book KazuoIshiguro maintains his preference for first-person narrative. The voice of both the first and last of this suite of five stories is that of a guitarist who plays in a café orchestra in the Piazza San Marco ...

Ng

John Lanchester

9 May 1991
The Redundancy of Courage 
by Timothy Mo.
Chatto, 408 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7011 3748 7
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... There’s a story that when KazuoIshiguro was studying creative writing at the University of East Anglia his tutor took him to one side. Ishiguro was at the time writing stories like the one contained in Firebird 2 – a punchy little McEwanesque conte in which the narrator’s mother dies from eating a poisoned fish. The tutor, who had worked ...

Uchi

Kazuo Ishiguro

1 August 1985
Pictures from the Water Trade: An Englishman in Japan 
by John David Morley.
Deutsch, 259 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 233 97703 1
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... The British and the Japanese may not be particularly alike, but the two races are exceedingly comparable. The British must actually believe this, for why else would they be displaying such a curious desperation to deny it? No doubt, they sense that to look at Japanese culture too closely would threaten a long-cherished complacency about their own. Hence the energy expended on sustaining an image of ...

Micro-Shock

Adam Mars-Jones: Kazuo Ishiguro

5 March 2015
The Buried Giant 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 345 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 571 31503 1
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... It’s typical​ of KazuoIshiguro’s low-key, misdirecting approach to the business of fiction that, although the book contains such creatures as dragons and pixies, the buried giant of his new novel’s title should be an analogy ...

In Service

Anthony Thwaite

18 May 1989
The Remains of the Day 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 245 pp., £10.99, May 1989, 0 571 15310 0
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I served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 243 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 7011 3462 3
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Beautiful Mutants 
by Deborah Levy.
Cape, 90 pp., £9.95, May 1989, 0 224 02651 8
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When the monster dies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 9780224026338
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The Colour of Memory 
by Geoff Dyer.
Cape, 228 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 224 02585 6
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Sexual Intercourse 
by Rose Boyt.
Cape, 160 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 224 02666 6
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The Children’s Crusade 
by Rebecca Brown.
Picador, 121 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 330 30529 8
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... the sestet chillingly spells out what the results of all this are likely to be, as The armies waited for a verbal error With all the instruments for causing pain. Stevens, the elderly butler in KazuoIshiguro’s third novel, The Remains of the Day, would never be so vulgar as to price anyone’s shoes, but much of his earlier life was discreetly spent in the presence of substantial men ...

Something Fishy

James Francken

13 April 2000
When We Were Orphans 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 313 pp., £16.99, April 2000, 0 571 20384 1
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... the façade of a great city’, Isherwood saw that this was indeed ‘only a façade’, but it’s one that Christopher Banks, the young English detective who is the starchy narrator of KazuoIshiguro’s new novel, can’t see behind. He remembers leaving Shanghai as a boy with the discomfiting feeling that the city might never reveal the mystery of his mother and father’s strange disappearance ...

Unlike Kafka

Amit Chaudhuri

8 June 1995
The Unconsoled 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 535 pp., £15.99, May 1995, 9780571173877
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... The shame of being on the wrong side of history: this is what KazuoIshiguro’s first three novels have been about. It is not a condition that has been written about a great deal in English, because the English language, ever since ‘literature’ was created and taught ...

Outrageous Game

Frank Kermode: Ishiguro’s Nightmares

21 April 2005
Never Let Me Go 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 263 pp., £16.99, March 2005, 0 571 22411 3
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... All of KazuoIshiguro’s six novels are first-person narratives. For the most part the voices of these narrators are quiet, civilised, rather formal. This is so whether the speaker is the obsessive butler of the most ...

Its Own Dark Styx

Marina Warner

20 March 1997
The Nature of Blood 
by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 224 pp., £15.99, February 1997, 0 571 19073 1
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... who demands human sacrifice, has become the prime instrument turned on history by several of the most powerful recent or contemporary novelists. In its shadowed and unreliable depths Toni Morrison, KazuoIshiguro, Leonardo Sciascia, Alejo Carpentier have searched out their material, reflections of ourselves; and from A State of Independence his second novel (1986), to The Nature of Blood, Caryl ...

Manly Scowls

Patrick Parrinder

6 February 1986
An Artist of the Floating World 
by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Faber, 206 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13608 7
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Revolutionary Road 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 337 pp., £4.50, January 1986, 0 413 59720 2
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Young Hearts Crying 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 347 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 9780413597304
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Ellen 
by Ita Daly.
Cape, 144 pp., £8.95, January 1986, 0 224 02833 2
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... counted. The young soldiers who came back from the war are turning into loyal corporation men, eager to forget the Imperial past and to dedicate the remainder of their lives to resurgent capitalism. Ishiguro’s narrator, Masuji Ono, has lost his wife and son but lives on with two daughters, one of whom is married. Were it not for his anxieties over his second daughter’s marriage negotiations, Ono ...

Bratpackers

Richard Lloyd Parry: Alex Garland

15 October 1998
The Beach 
by Alex Garland.
Penguin, 439 pp., £5.99, June 1997, 0 14 025841 8
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The Tesseract 
by Alex Garland.
Viking, 215 pp., £9.99, September 1998, 0 670 87016 1
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... inferences, based on accent, colour and mannerisms?), but it illustrates a wider point: the unimaginative and incurious nature of the backpackers. Alex Garland has written of his admiration for KazuoIshiguro (some of the dialogue in The Beach is modelled on An Artist of the Floating World), and he often appears to be emulating Ishiguro’s trick of exposing his narrators despite themselves ...

Diary

Julian Barnes: Burning Letters

7 July 1988
... standard cataloguing expression in the Location Register of 20th-century English Literary Manuscripts, recently published by the British Library.* I share the phrase with Timothy Mo, Salman Rushdie, KazuoIshiguro and Craig ‘Hurricane’ Raine; also with William Boyd, who, unlike the rest of us, adds of his manucripts that he ‘would be “very reluctant” to allow any access to them’. (This ...
17 December 2009
... his wonderful book on Yeats and modernism. We might think that, over time, his field has become everything. This is a man who has written just as convincingly on Don DeLillo as on John Donne, on KazuoIshiguro as on Joachim of Flora. But then this is one way of thinking of his special gifts as a critic. Nothing is a ‘field’ for him, there are no fences or trees in the way. The main army can ...

Smilingly Excluded

Richard Lloyd Parry: An Outsider in Tokyo

17 August 2006
The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 
by Donald Richie, edited by Leza Lowitz.
Stone Bridge, 494 pp., £13.99, October 2005, 1 880656 97 3
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...  could come up with was the smirking comedy Brrm! Brrm! Only two novelists have filtered Japanese characters into English with any conviction, and neither of them has made a home in the country: KazuoIshiguro, British in all but name, has not lived in Nagasaki since he was a toddler; David Mitchell left Hiroshima four years ago. There is a certain amount of unjustly neglected travel writing, such ...

Kick over the Scenery

Stephanie Burt: Philip K. Dick

3 July 2008
Four Novels of the 1960s: ‘The Man in the High Castle’, ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, ‘Ubik’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 830 pp., $35, May 2008, 978 1 59853 009 4
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Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s: ‘Martian Time-Slip’, ‘Dr Bloodmoney’, ‘Now Wait for Last Year’, ‘Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 1128 pp., $40, August 2008, 978 1 59853 025 4
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... released in 2007, sold faster by far than anything else on the Library’s list. Novelists with clear literary pedigrees now write SF regularly: Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Michael Chabon, KazuoIshiguro. Authors who began inside the SF ghetto have found success outside it: J.G. Ballard as an author of realist novels, Samuel Delany in academia, William Gibson, Lethem himself (whose first ...

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