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Remains of the Day (Ishiguro) - Author Bio

Author Bio 
Birth—November 8, 1954
Where—Nagasaki, Japan
Reared—England, UK
Education—B.A., University of Kent (UK); M.A., University of
   East Anglia
Awards—Whitbread Prize, 1986; Booker Prize, 1989;
   Chevalier de l'Order des arts et lettres, 1998
Currently—lives in London, England


Kazuo Ishiguro is the author of five previous novels, including The Remains of the Day, which won the Booker Prize and became an international best seller. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages. In 1995 he received an Order of the British Empire for service to literature, and in 1998 was named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

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Ishiguro's novels share certain qualities. The chronology of his plotting is elaborate and the narration is highly subjective. His ability to capture the details and atmosphere of a period has received high praise.

A number of his novels are set in the past. His most recent, Never Let Me Go, had science fiction qualities and a futuristic tone; however, the given time period is the late 1990s, and thus takes place in an alternate, though very similar, world. His fourth novel, The Unconsoled, takes place in an unnamed Central European city. The Remains of the Day is set in the large country house of an English lord, in the period leading up to, and the period after, the Second World War.

An Artist of the Floating World is set in Ishiguro's home town of Nagasaki during the period of reconstruction following the detonation of the atomic bomb there in 1945. The narrator is forced to come to terms with his part in the Second World War. He finds himself blamed by the new generation who accuse him of being part of Japan's misguided foreign policy, and is forced to confront the ideals of the modern times as represented in his grandson.

The novels are written in the first-person narrative style and the narrators often exhibit human failings. Ishiguro's technique is to allow these characters to reveal their flaws implicitly during the narrative. The author thus creates a sense of pathos by allowing the reader to see the narrator's flaws while being drawn into sympathy with him. That pathos is often derived from the narrator's actions, or, more often, inaction. In The Remains of the Day, the butler Stevens fails to act on his romantic feelings toward the housekeeper Miss Kenton because he fails to reconcile his sense of service and his personal life.

The novels end without a sense of resolution. The issues his characters confront are buried in the past, and those issues remain unresolved. Thus Ishiguro ends many of his novels on a note of melancholic resignation, whereby his characters accept their past and who they have become, and find comfort in that realization by a relief from mental anguish. This can be seen as a literary reflection on the Japanese idea of mono no aware, literally, the pathos of things. (From Wikipedia.)




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