Monday 16 September 2019

Nobel winner Kazuo Ishiguro says prize is ‘amazing and totally unexpected’

The British writer scooped the prize for his novels of “great emotional force”.

Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro

By Sherna Noah

Remains Of The Day author Kazuo Ishiguro has described his Nobel Prize as “amazing and totally unexpected news”.

The British writer, 62, who was born in Japan, scooped the award – worth around £842,000 – for his novels of “great emotional force”.

Kazuo Ishiguro

The writer, whose best known works include Never Let Me Go (2005), held an impromptu press conference in the back garden of his north London home after winning the award.

He told the many journalists who had gathered there: “I feel embarrassed in a way that I’m receiving this award when so many great living authors have not.”

He said the prize “comes at a time when the world is uncertain about its values, leadership and its safety. I just hope that receiving this huge honour will, even in some small way, encourage the forces for good and peace at this time.”

Judges of the prize said that Ishiguro, who moved to the UK when he was five, had “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world” in novels of “great emotional force”.

The Remains Of The Day, his third novel, was turned into a film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said of the writer: “If you mix Jane Austen – her comedy of manners and her psychological insights – with Kafka, then I think you have Ishiguro.”

She described Ishiguro’s style as “precise”… “even tender sometimes,”… “very held back, unassuming”.

She dismissed any suggestion that judges deliberately went for a more straightforward choice this time after opting for singer Bob Dylan for last year’s literature prize.

“We thought that last year was a straightforward choice: we picked one of the greatest poets in our time. And this year, we have picked one of the most exquisite novelists in our time,” she said.

Ishiguro, a Man Booker Prize winner, previously told The Guardian that he wrote the bulk of The Remains Of The Day in just four weeks and in free-hand.


“I would, for a four-week period, ruthlessly clear my diary and go on what we somewhat mysteriously called a ‘crash’,” he said.

“During the ‘crash’, I would do nothing but write from 9am to 10.30pm, Monday through Saturday. I’d get one hour off for lunch and two for dinner. I’d not see, let alone answer, any mail, and would not go near the phone.

“No-one would come to the house. This, fundamentally, was how The Remains Of The Day was written.”

Ishiguro, whose book themes are associated with memory, time and self-delusion, has also penned scripts for film and television.

British writers Doris Lessing and Harold Pinter previously won the Nobel award.

PA Media

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