Kazuo Ishiguro wins Nobel Literature Prize

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Media captionKazuo Ishiguro talks to BBC arts editor Will Gompertz

British writer Kazuo Ishiguro has won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature.

The novelist was praised by the Swedish Academy as a writer “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.

His most famous novels The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go were adapted into highly acclaimed films. He was made an OBE in 1995.

The 62-year-old writer said the award was “flabbergastingly flattering”.

He has written eight books, which have been translated into over 40 languages.


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When contacted by the BBC, he admitted he hadn’t been contacted by the Nobel committee and wasn’t sure whether it was a hoax.

He said: “It’s a magnificent honour, mainly because it means that I’m in the footsteps of the greatest authors that have lived, so that’s a terrific commendation.”

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Media captionBBC producer Elizabeth Needham-Bennett is the first to tell Kazuo Ishiguro he’s won

He said he hoped the Nobel Prize would be a force for good. “The world is in a very uncertain moment and I would hope all the Nobel Prizes would be a force for something positive in the world as it is at the moment,” he said.

“I’ll be deeply moved if I could in some way be part of some sort of climate this year in contributing to some sort of positive atmosphere at a very uncertain time.”

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Image caption Carey Mulligan starred in the film version of Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go

Who is Kazuo Ishiguro?

  • Born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954, he moved to England with his family when his father was offered a post as an oceanographer in Surrey
  • He read English and philosophy at the University of Kent after a gap year that included working as a grouse beater for the Queen Mother at Balmoral
  • He studied an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, where his tutors were Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter
  • His thesis became his critically acclaimed first novel, A Pale View of Hills, published in 1982
  • He won the Booker Prize in 1989 for The Remains of the Day
  • More on Kazuo Ishiguro from BBC Arts

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Image caption The Remains of the Day was turned into an Oscar-nominated film with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson

His work, which includes scripts for film and television, looks at themes of memory, time and self-delusion.

The Nobel committee praised his latest book The Buried Giant, which was released in 2015, for exploring “how memory relates to oblivion, history to the present, and fantasy to reality”.

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Image caption Fans gathered in Tokyo in the hope of celebrating Haruki Murakami, who had been the bookies’ favourite – but ended up celebrating Ishiguro’s win
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Image caption Kazuo Ishiguro was inundated with members of the press at his north London home after his award was announced

Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, described his style as “a little bit like a mix of Jane Austen, comedy of manners and Franz Kafka”.

She said Ishiguro was a writer of “great integrity”, adding: “He doesn’t look to the side. He’s developed an aesthetic universe all of his own.”

The Nobel comes with a prize of nine million kronor (£844,000, $1.1m).

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Kazuo Ishiguro – his books at a glance

  • His first novel A Pale View of Hills was about a Japanese woman living in England trying to come to terms with her daughter’s death
  • He followed that with An Artist of the Floating World in 1986
  • The Remains of the Day tells the story of a butler in a stately home whose boss was a Nazi sympathiser
  • His only book of the 1990s was The Unconsoled, which was followed by When We Were Orphans in 2000
  • 2005’s Never Let Me Go followed a group of students at a boarding school living in a dystopian future. It was turned into a film starring Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan five years later
  • Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall was a collection of stories published in 2009
  • His most recent novel was The Buried Giant in 2015
  • Ishiguro has also written a number of screenplays, including The White Countess and The Saddest Music in the World, as well as other short stories
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Media captionMeet the Author: Kazuo Ishiguro

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