The 2017 Nobel Prize in literature was awarded to British novelist, screenwriter and short storyteller, Kazuo Ishiguro by The Swedish Academy, bringing much less controversy than last year’s Nobel Prize winner, Bob Dylan. His award brought much discord among many literary critics because he is more known for his singing and song writing than literary prose. However, Ishiguro is a well-known author and notably known for his acclaimed novel Never Let Me Go published in 2005. The Swedish Academy describes Ishiguro as the man “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” It is through his lifetime of writing such beautiful prose that garnered the attention of the Swedish Academy.
Time Magazine’s best book of 2005, Never Let Me Go, is a science-fiction and coming of age story set in England in the 1990s. The book is narrated by the protagonist Kathy, who is reflecting on the past at Hailsham, where she received her education. She recalls with fondness the memories of training among her friends Tommy and Ruth. During their time at Hailsham, the three friends find it odd that they aren’t allowed to leave the grounds. They are told by their guardians, who are also their school teachers, to make sure that they stay out of trouble or “harm their bodies.” Through the pages, the reader and characters, learn delicately that Kathy, Tommy and Ruth are clones. Their purpose is to be organ donors for the rest of the population when they become adults and that their lives are predetermined.
The novel ultimately guides the reader to confront the reality of life, death and humanity. It does this by asking the questions: what is morality? And is cloning beneficial for society? There are many mixed reviews of what the meaning is behind this eclectic piece of literature.
“[Never Let Me Go is] quasi-science-fiction. Even after the secrets have been revealed, there are still a lot of holes in the story because, apparently, genetic science isn’t what the book is about,” wrote Louis Menand, a contributor for The New Yorker.
However, there is one book critic that hits the nail on the top of the head. “Gradually, it dawns on the reader that Never Let Me Go is a parable about mortality,” said Theo Tait, a book critic for The Telegraph.
There is a plethora of novels, as well as screenplays, that are on Ishiguro’s resume as an author. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy in 1978 from the University of Kent. Ishiguro started his writing career in journalism by sending in articles to the popular magazines of the time while traveling around the United States and Canada. He published his first novel A Pale View of Hills in 1982, which was his senior thesis in college.
His works explore science fiction, contemporary realism and historical fiction. Remains of the Day, a historical fiction piece that takes place during and after WWII, won the Man-Booker Prize in 1989. Ishiguro has had a successful career as a writer and storyteller that has spanned over 30 years. Ishiguro has over 15 novels and four screenplays with many other notable works within the music industry as a song writer. Even with three decades under his belt, it is certain that Ishiguro is still in his prime and we should plan to see much more of him.