Kazuo Ishiguro, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010, was born in 1944. He lives in London.
As a child, Ishiguro suffered from depression. He describes himself as “delighted as a six-year-old” to see the aftermath of the Nazi invasion. He was found wandering the streets near his home in north London, then in the family home. Ishiguro’s father heard his footsteps and tackled him. He gave the young Ishiguro enough attention so that he didn’t run away but went on to develop a family that he believed had a deeper purpose than simply surviving.
Kazuo Ishiguro sees a hole in his past, leaving him needing to “rediscover something” which he proposes as an autobiography: “Just as patients move back in time and try to rediscover the narratives that a recent trauma cracked, so I see my own story as a narrative.” Ishiguro grew up in Nishinomiya, a town in Shizuoka Prefecture, in Japan. He was greeted in the basement of a factory by the inhabitants of the adjacent Japanese village, “filthy, yet not unlike a saloon,” who were waiting to present him to his father, the police chief, as a reward for helping the local child hunters in a raiding party break into their prey.
Kazuo Ishiguro’s world view has helped him to understand the human predicament: “I’ve begun to see that our lives are part of some procession that goes on far longer than our time on earth,” he says. “Abody may die on a lot of my books, and I may be dying myself, but that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is to go on writing books, if my last words are, as they are here, a hymn to lost people — people who, if we had allowed them to go on living, would have ended up doing what I am able to do — reading and writing stories in which people might go on living in some way — finding ways to survive, or to become what the world was supposed to want them to be.” Ishiguro does not despair of making his mark in a world where the parameters of what humanity is can be dramatically reshaped by technology.
Kazuo Ishiguro tells an anecdote about a doctor he met whose sole aim in life is to bring down stars through “projection,” his own words, using scientific technology. He explained to Ishiguro that his doctor envisages a future where once the stars are no longer visible, the phenomenon called “star-crossed lovers” will occur.