Monday, April 27, 2009

Kazuo Ishiguro: 'There comes a point when you can count the number of books you're going to write before you die. And you think, God, there's only four left'
Decca Aitkenhead writing in The Guardian, Monday 27 April 2009

Kazuo Ishiguro, author. Photograph: David Levene/David Levene

Kazuo Ishiguro's new book features an American woman who claims to be a virtuoso on the cello. She befriends a young Hungarian cellist earning his living playing in cafes, and every day she tutors him, earnestly and intensely. "You have it," she tells him. "Most definitely. You have ... potential." As the days turn into weeks, he wonders why she does not appear to own a cello herself, and eventually, as summer draws to a close, he discovers why. She cannot actually play the instrument at all. So convinced was she of her own musical genius, no teacher ever seemed equal to it, and so rather than tarnish her gift with imperfection, she chose never to realise it at all. "At least I haven't damaged what I was born with," she says.

Bathetic self-deception, and unfulfilled dreams - a lament to passing time, and life not working out quite as one had hoped - have been the defining themes of almost all Ishiguro's work. They are, on the face of it, puzzling preoccupations for one of Britain's most successful writers.

His potential was certainly identified at a young age; in 1983, he was named as one of Britain's best young novelists, alongside Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan, his second novel won the Whitbread prize and his third, The Remains of the Day, won the Booker. But his early promise has been more than fulfilled; at 54, he remains a literary phenomenon - his last novel, Never Let Me Go, is currently being made into a film starring Keira Knightley - and in person he conveys the self-contained confidence of a writer who knows his new work, Nocturnes, will be another major publishing event.
The full account here.

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall is published by Faber & Faber
NZ $35.00 - Release date in NZ 4 May.

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