Nagasaki rejoices over native son Ishiguro’s winning of Nobel Prize in literature

Kyodo, JIJI, AFP-JIJI

The city of Nagasaki, the birthplace of British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, reveled Thursday in the news that Ishiguro has been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.

The 62-year-old author was born in the city on Nov. 8, 1954, and lived there until age 5, when his family moved to Britain.

“I feel like I’m dreaming,” said Teruko Tanaka, 91, who taught Ishiguro at the now-closed Sakuragaoka kindergarten. “I didn’t think he’d win the prize while I’m alive.”

Ishiguro, the winner of the 1989 Man Booker Prize, met with Tanaka at one point when he visited Nagasaki after becoming a writer, and later sent her an autographed copy of one of his books.

“I am so excited, I can’t sleep tonight,” said Tanaka.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also congratulated Ishiguro on Thursday, noting that Ishiguro has many fans in Japan.

Masayuki Itayama, 62, from Minamishimabara in Nagasaki Prefecture, had already started looking for Ishiguro’s books at a bookstore.

“I didn’t know he was a Nagasaki native,” said Itayama, adding he is eager to read the books of an author who is now one of Nagasaki’s most famous sons.

Welcoming the news, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue expressed hope in a statement that Ishiguro will have a chance to visit his hometown someday.

“In his debut work, ‘A Pale View of Hills,’ he portrays life in Nagasaki after the atomic bombing. I am proud of the great writer having Nagasaki in the back of his mind and making it a vital part of his work,” he said.

People involved in publishing and the bookstore business in particular rejoiced over the prize.

“Nagasaki is an international town and has established deep-rooted ties with Britain,” said Hitoshi Katayama, the 70-year-old president of a local publisher. “It is great that a person associated with the two countries won the prize.”

Akira Yamaguchi, who has been handling Ishiguro’s books at Hayakawa Publishing Corp., the exclusive publisher of the Japanese translations of his books, felt Ishiguro was a writer worthy of receiving the most recognized prize in literature — and thought it was time he did.

“His books are widely read around the world because there is a fundamental theme lying deep beneath his diverse way of writing,” Yamaguchi said.

He also said Ishiguro is a typical British gentleman who also possesses important Japanese traits, such as thoughtfulness for others.

The Nagasaki marine meteorological observatory, where Ishiguro’s father is believed to have worked, is now the Nagasaki meteorological observatory in the area where the world-heritage Glover Garden is located.

Ishiguro’s Japanese publisher said Friday it would republish eight of his books in translation, reporting “a huge number of orders” after he won the Nobel.

“Since last night, we have received a huge number of orders. We’re very happy,” a spokeswoman for Hayakawa said. “We have decided to reprint the eight works that we have already published in Japanese.”

Ishiguro’s best-known novel, “The Remains of the Day,” is among the works that have been translated into Japanese.

Japanese media showed images of late-night bookshops frantically digging out their sparse stocks of Ishiguro works and placing them above books by Japan’s best-known novelist, Haruki Murakami.