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My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs, Nobel Lecture by Kazuo Ishiguro

Updated: Jun 30, 2019

Ishiguro gave this Lecture in Stockholm on 7 December 2017, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017 for his «novels of great emotional force» which have «uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world ».

His works include Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.

In this speech he discusses the relationship between his past and his literary career. with examples of influences such as Proust’s novel Remembrance of Things Past which helped him evolve the perception of time in order to explore self-deception and denial, or the song « Ruby’s Arms » by Tom Waits, where the expressed heartbreak led Ishiguro to reveal the tragic sadness hidden in the heart of the otherwise stoic English butler in Remains of the Day.

For Ishiguro writing is about connection. « Stories can entertain, sometimes teach or argue a point. But for me the essential thing is that they communicate feelings. In the end, stories are about one person saying to another : Can you understand what I’m saying ? Does it also feel this way to you ? »

He concludes by appealing to the literary community to be diverse, to listen to more writers from different and presently unknown literary cultures near or far from us. He warns against defining « good literature » too narrowly and encourages openness towards the new generation of story tellers, which he hopes will lead to breaking down barriers and finding a new humane vision to unite us.

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