peteg's blog

Kazuo Ishiguro: An Artist of the Floating World

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From the Chicago Public Library. An early work, from 1986, but vintage Ishiguro nonetheless. This is something of an apologia from his generation to his parents', centred around the radical transformation of Japanese society during World War II and the immediate aftermath, but really stretching back to the modernisation of the country from the late 19th century (drawing on my limited memory of history). He aims for ambiguity and melancholic abeyance but instead crowds the stage with too many characters who do not serve distinct purposes; often they are just generational reflections of each other, which seems a clunky way of showing what does not change. His technique is not quite there yet as his first-person unreliable narrator is sapient enough to record many telling things but can be relied upon to miss the obvious. This is further muddied by his erratic hauteur and general unrepentance; perhaps Ishiguro is telling us that Ono would never compromise himself for himself but is happy to do so for others (cf the miai for Noriko and generally shady dealings with Matsuda). We get the usual slow ramp up but not quite the powerful climax. Next up for him was The Remains of the Day, which I have yet to read but am increasingly expecting to be his masterpiece.