Released in 1986, this relatively short novel is dense with ideas and possibilities. Set in Japan in the late 1940s, the story is narrated by Masuji Ono, a celebrated painter who once created propaganda for the Imperial Army. He now finds himself labeled a traitor by the younger generation, a reputation that threatens to derail his youngest daughter’s forthcoming marriage.
With Ishiguro, however, nothing is straightforward. Ono is an unreliable narrator, disguising his motives and spinning recollections to portray himself more favorably. Although he denies making mistakes, his true feelings slowly seep through and the evolution of his character is expertly revealed by the reactions of his worried daughters.