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British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro accepts Nobel Prize, recounts its meaning in Nagasaki

Kyodo

Japan-born British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, author of the 1989 Man Booker Prize-winning “The Remains of the Day,” received the 2017 Nobel Prize in literature on Sunday.

Ishiguro, 63, accepted a medal and diploma from Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony in Stockholm. In selecting Ishiguro, the Swedish Academy said the author, “in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”

His novels are most associated with memory, time and self-delusion, the academy said.

Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki and moved to Britain with his family when he was 5. He has talked of his connection with Japan, through relatives and his own early memories, and set his first two novels in his native country.

During a speech at the Nobel Banquet, the novelist recalled the first time he heard about the “Nobel Sho” (Japanese for Nobel Prize), from his mother when he was 5.

“The Nobel Sho, she said, was to promote heiwa — meaning peace or harmony. This was just 14 years after our city, Nagasaki, had been devastated by the atomic bomb,” Ishiguro said.

He also noted that “the pride we feel when someone from our nation wins a Nobel Prize is different from the one we feel witnessing one of our athletes winning an Olympic medal.”

“We don’t feel the pride of our tribe demonstrating superiority over other tribes. Rather, it’s the pride that comes from knowing that one of us has made a significant contribution to our common human endeavor. The emotion aroused is a larger one, a unifying one,” he said.

His 1982 debut novel “A Pale View of Hills” depicts a woman from Nagasaki reflecting on her life and the aftermath of the city’s atomic bombing.

He followed the effort with “An Artist of the Floating World” in 1986, narrated by an aging Japanese painter taking stock of his life and career a few years after the end of the war.

“The Remains of the Day,” which depicts a butler in postwar Britain who recalls his time serving his aristocratic master, was made into a film in 1993 with Academy Award-winning Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins in the role of the duty-obsessed butler Stevens.

Other notable works include the 2005 dystopian science fiction novel “Never Let Me Go,” an international best-seller that was also adapted into a film in 2010. It describes a group of clones being raised for their organs.

Ishiguro’s most recent novel, “The Buried Giant,” was published in 2015.

Ahead of the ceremony, Ishiguro stressed the importance of literature in an increasingly divided world. During his Nobel lecture at the academy on Thursday, he said that “good writing and good reading will break down barriers.”

Ishiguro became the third Japanese-born writer to win the Nobel Prize in literature, following Yasunari Kawabata in 1968 and Kenzaburo Oe in 1994.

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