Friday, November 01, 1996

Ishiguro discusses time, love in latest novel

Ishiguro discusses time, love in latest novel
Remains of the Day author gives insight into the new genre his writing created
The Chicago Maroon

Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, read from his new novel The Unconsoled, and answered questions Wednesday at the Oriental Institute.

“I thought it was very interesting,” said Sharon Ruta, who came from Kenosha, Wisconsin to see Ishiguro. “[Ishiguro] is very easy to relate to. The time went by very fast.”

Ishiguro said he is often compared to other authors, particularly Kafka, and he thinks this is because his writing is somewhat hard to classify.

“If you step out of the standard writing tradition, you get sucked into this vortex; Franz Kafka over here and Samuel Beckett over there.”

He emphasized that, perhaps in style, he was not much influenced by Kafka. “I never felt I could understand what the hell The Trial was about,” he said. “Kafka never spoke for me and I can’t relate to him emotionally.”

Ishiguro described his literary endeavors as a personal odyssey, “ I feel with every novel I write, I am closing in on a little territory in which I am interested,” he said.

“So, my search will look like a career in the meantime/ When I get to the bottom of it—if I ever do—I guess I will have to retire.

“You rarely get the opportunity to meet an author who you like to read,” said Lakshmi Kishore who attended the event. “I’m glad that his new book was not exclusively written to be made into a Hollywood movie.”

The event lasted an hour and a half and was part of a book tour to promote The Unconsoled. Ishiguro will be in the United States for several days for the tour.

The Unconsoled details the complexities of life that Mr. Ryder, a concert pianist, endures. Due to a lack of an official schedule for his music tour, Ryder begins to experience a complex and disturbing sense of reality.

Ishiguro explained that his novel is an attempt to encapsulate the anarchic nature of everyday life.

He said the main difference between the experience of living and his novel is that, in the book, he compresses and distorts time and space.

For example, at one point in the novel, Ryder encounters a child and promises him a favor. However he then forget the promise and the child moments later.

Ishiguro said the same kind of thing happens all the time in real life, only over a period of years.

“Someone may be loyal to their wife, to their company, but then five years later everything is completely changed,” he said. “It’s not insanity, just the way life is,” Ishiguro said.

Ishiguro said, “The world Ryder is describing is an extension of his interior world. [This could include] people from his past or even the person who he was before that moment.”

The transient and fleeting nature of reality is a common thread in Ishiguro’s four other books, he said.

A Pale View of the Hills was published in 1982. An Artist of the Floating World was short-listed for the Booker Prize when it came out in 1986.

His third novel, The Remains of the Day, became a bestseller in 1989 and was later made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins. His books have been published in 24 languages. The Unconsoled, released in 1995, has also been well received.

Ishiguro born in Nagasaki, Japan in 1954, moved to Britain with his family in 1990. He attended the University of Kent at Canterbury where he received a BA in 1978. Ishiguro then went on to the University of East Anglia in 1980 to earn his MA in Creative Writing. He is a resident of London, England.

Originally published November 1, 1996

Photo Caption: Kazuo Ishiguro, author of The Unconsoled, appeared at the Oriental Institute on Wednesday as a party of a book tour across the United States.
Photo Credit:
Luke Swistun/Maroon Staff