03 May / My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs by Kazuo Ishiguro [in Library Journal]
Yes, reading the inimitable Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2017 Nobel Lecture is easy, but the better option is listening to his crisp, gentle voice instead. Perhaps Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, missed the memo on properly pronouncing Ishiguro’s first name, but her introduction passes quickly, leaving listeners to settle in as the Laureate begins in 1979 as a 24-year-old writer-to-be.
In lyrical sentences that often sound like verse, he recounts being a five-year-old immigrant from Japan to England in 1960 when “multiculturalism [was] still round the corner”; composing his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, as “an urgent act of preservation”; “writ[ing] fiction that could work properly only on the page … something the other forms [film, television] couldn’t do”; realizing that in “attend[ing] more to [his] relationships, [his] characters would take care of themselves.”
Despite calling himself “a tired author, from an intellectually tired generation,” he promises he’ll “carry on and do the best [he] can,” even as he’ll “be looking to the writers from the younger generations to inspire and lead us.”
Verdict: Ishiguro’s delivery is so inviting, his hope so inspiring, making this short speech an aural treat worth regularly repeating.