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Kazuo Ishiguro
Kazuo Ishiguro
April 21, 2005

4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar
Assembly Hall, Campus Center
UAlbany Uptown Campus

8:00 p.m. Reading
Clark Auditorium, NY State Museum
Cultural Education Center
Albany, NY

Kazuo Ishiguro, author of six novels and three screenplays, is one of the foremost British writers of his generation. The "New York Times Book Review" has described Ishiguro as "an original and remarkable genius," and writer Michael Ondaatje has lauded him as "one of the finest prose stylists of our time." Ishiguro's work often explores memory and the role that the past plays in the present lives of his characters.

Ishiguro's most recently released novel "Never Let Me Go" (2005) is set in the idyllic English countryside at the progressive Hailsham school for boys and girls. The tranquil setting, however, becomes ominous as the narrator Kathy H., now 31, relates how she and her classmates were raised "to know and not know" that they were human clones created to donate their organs in the prime of their lives. As Kathy H. finishes her long 10-year career as a carer for other donors and moves into the next stage of her life where she will also become a donor, she reminisces about her youth and explores with her friends the mysteries of their childhood.

"Booklist" called the novel a "luminous offering" and said that Ishiguro "nimbly navigates the landscape of emotion--the inevitable link between present and past and the fine line between compassion and cruelty, pleasure and pain."

"Publishers Weekly" praised "Never Let Me Go" as being "exquisitely observed . . . in savoring the subtle shades of atmosphere and innuendo . . . Ishiguro spins a stinging cautionary tale of science outpacing ethics."

"The Remains of the Day" (1989), Ishiguro's third novel, won the Booker Prize for Fiction and received wide-spread popular acclaim. Stevens, an aged butler, narrates the work and unknowingly reveals many things about the world around him that he is oblivious to as he reminisces upon his past and his "life of service" to a "great gentleman." "Publishers Weekly" called the book "a tour-de-force-both a compelling psychological study and a portrait of a vanished social order." The "Times Literary Supplement" called the book "as strong as it is delicate, a very finely nuanced and at times humorous study of repression . . .It is a strikingly original book and beautifully made. "The Remains of the Day" was adapted for film by Merchant Ivory Productions in 1993 and starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The film received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Music, and Hopkins and Thompson received Best Actor/Actress nominations.

Other novels by Ishiguro include "When We Were Orphans" (2000), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, "The Unconsoled" (1995), "An Artist of the Floating World" (1986), which was named the Whitbread Book of the Year, and his highly acclaimed first novel, "A Pale View of the Hills" (1982), which won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. He has also written two screenplays for television and a screenplay titled "The Saddest Music in the World," a melodrama set in the 1930s, starring Isabella Rossellini.

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan in 1954 and moved to England in 1960. He currently lives in London with his wife and daughter. He was awarded the OBE in 1995 for services to literature and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1998. His work has been translated into over 30 languages.

Times Union Article Writers Online Magazine Article