Image courtesy of Mariusz Kubik at

Kazuo Ishiguro

(born 1954)

'From the beginning of his career,
he was clearly a master'

A. S. Byatt

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki in 1954. At the age of five he moved to Britain when his father began research at the National Institute of Oceanography. Having attended grammar school in Surrey he worked as a grouse-beater for the Queen Mother at Balmoral and then a community worker in Glasgow before studying English and Philosophy at the University of Kent, Canterbury. After graduating he worked as a social worker in London before moving to Norwich to attend the prestigious postgraduate masters in Creative Writing run by Malcolm Bradbury at the University of East Anglia. Whilst on the course he met the novelist Angela Carter, who would become his mentor, encouraging him in his early writing.

To begin with Ishiguro’s published writing focused on the Second World War. In 1982 his first novel A Pale View of Hills was published to great acclaim. Telling the story of a Japanese widow and survivor of the bombing of Nagasaki, it won the Winifred Holtby Prize. In 1983 he was included in Granta’s list of 20 young British Writers alongside Martin Amis, Pat Barker, Salman Rushdie and Graham Swift (ten years later in 1993 he was included in Granta’s list a second time). In 1986 he published An Artist of the Floating World, the story of an artist facing his military past. It won that year's Whitbread Book of the Year award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction.

The Remains of the Day, Ishiguro's third novel, was published in 1989. Set in post-war England, it tells the story of an elderly English butler reflecting on his life in service, his thwarted affection for a fellow servant and his unwitting involvement in the rise of fascism. The book was an enormous success and won the Booker Prize for Fiction as well as being adapted for the screen in 1993 as an award-winning film starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The Remains of the Day was followed in 1995 by The Unconsoled, the story of a concert pianist who loses his memory and in 2000 by When We Were Orphans, loosely termed a detective novel, set within the international settlement in pre-war Shanghai.

His most recent novel, Never Let Me Go, published in 2005, was a deeply moving, genre-defying science-fiction story which again saw him nominated for the Booker Prize for Fiction. It was adapted for the screen in 2010 in a film starring Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightly. As well as his novels, Ishiguro has written two original screenplays for television A Profile of Arthur J. Mason broadcast in 1984 and The Gourmet broadcast in 1986. He collaborated on the screenplays for The Saddest Music in the World (2003) which starred Isabella Rossellini, and The White Countess (2005), which starred Ralph Fiennes. In 2009 he published his first collection of short fiction Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, which was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction).

Kazuo Ishiguro lives in London with his wife Lorna, a social worker and his daughter Naomi.

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