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Last Updated Friday April 27 2018 12:24 PM IST

From Holmes to jazz: the many facets of Kazuo Ishiguro

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From Holmes to jazz: the many facets of Kazuo Ishiguro Japan-born English writer Kazuo Ishiguro was a surprise choice for Nobel Prize. Photo: Getty Images

Kazuo Ishiguro was hardly 10 years old when he bumped into Sherlock Holmes at a library near his house. He even started behaving like Holmes and Dr Watson, regardless of the mockery of his classmates.

Ishiguro started writing stories when he was reading philosophy and literature in the Kent University. He then pursued an advanced course in creative writing.

He wrote his first novel in 1982, the year he received British citizenship. ‘A Pale View of the Hills’ told the story of a Japanese woman living in England.

Ishiguro was a surprise choice for Nobel Prize. Many had expected Japanese writer Haruki Murakami to win the coveted prize but it ultimately went for Japan-born English writer Ishiguro.

Ishiguro wears many hats. Apart from novels, he has written stories and screenplays and songs and even made short movies.

He won the Man Booker Prize in 1989 for ‘The Remains of the Day’. The tale of longing was later made into a movie that received eight Academy Award nominations. ‘Never Let Me Go’ was also made into a movie.

Ishiguro’s other screenplays are ‘The White Countess’ and ‘The Saddest Music in the World’. Ishiguro’s novels are known for a quest for identity and travels in memory. Most of them are set against the backdrop of World War II. His characters are haunted by their past.

Born in Nagasaki in 1954, Ishiguro migrated to England with his parents when he was five years old. Though he was born in a Japanese-speaking family, Ishiguro says he never got a chance to get familiar with Japanese culture or literature. He returned to Japan only in 1989 to attend a writers’ conference.

Still he wrote a novel with Japan as the backdrop - ‘An Artist of the Floating World’ told the story of a Japanese town shattered by war.

Ishiguro has also written songs for American jazz singer Stacey Kent. The two prominent influences in his life are Fyodor Dostoevsky and Marcel Proust. "If you mix Jane Austen and Franz Kafka then you have Kazuo Ishiguro in a nutshell, but you have to add a little bit of Marcel Proust into the mix," Swedish Academy permanent secretary Sara Danius told Reuters.

The Swedish Academy has lived up to its name of throwing surprises. Ishiguro was as much a surprise as Bob Dylan last year. In 2015, the Nobel for literature was awarded to Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich who collected oral histories from the Soviet times.

Read more: Latest world news | Being Ishiguro: the novelist who writes songs and strums guitar

The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of Malayala Manorama. Legal action under the IT Act will be taken against those making derogatory and obscene statements.

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