On the occasion of his winning the Nobel Prize, we asked our colleagues to recall their first or their favourite literary encounter with Kazuo Ishiguro . . .
Since reading The Remains of the Day in my early twenties, it has remained in my top three reads of all time. It was a large part of why I came to work at Faber. How thrilling to discover that he is a wonderful man, quiet and intelligent, who even remembers reps’ names after a five-year furlough . . .
Regional Account Manager
My first reading of The Remains of the Day was under several large duvets in a chateau in Normandy. It was spring, but it was snowing outside. Ish had recently delivered the manuscript, and Matthew Evans [former Faber Chairman] pressed a copy of it into my hands and told me I absolutely had to read it. This sort of enthusiasm was unusual for him, but how right he was. I was in a trance-like state and read it right through in one from beginning to end – an unforgettable experience.
For me, it has to be The Buried Giant. The characters are shrouded in the mist of forgetfulness but the reader is gifted with the most vivid, beautiful and terrifying imagery. From the troubled outset, you accompany the ageing couple with your heart in your mouth as they journey in constant peril through a land peopled by pixies, a troll, sinister monks (my absolute favourite scene) and a befuddled old knight, to the heartbreaking ending that we and they gradually accept is coming. Truly unforgettable writing.
Text Design Manager / Senior Project Editor
I first read Never Let Me Go over the course of several cool, pale mornings during the summer after I finished my undergraduate degree. I was living in rural Montana. I often wonder whether it was the situation I found myself in – it felt an unnaturally still time, a liminal moment: finished with childhood, not quite having breached the surface of whatever was to come next – that made the book sing to me; or whether it was the writing itself that flooded my material circumstances with perceived meaning. In either case, what a precious gift Ishiguro’s words were then, and continue to be now.
In 2015 I read an advance copy of The Buried Giant. A few days after I had finished it – and just after it was published – I met Ish and his wife Lorna at a Faber party. I loved the book and spent fifteen minutes discussing it with them. When I look back on my working life, this will be one of the main highlights. Opportunities like this are rare and precious.
My first time reading Ishiguro was in perhaps the most perfect dystopian location: Moscow during a bleak spring thaw. In the bowels of our haunting Soviet hotel, I opened Never Let Me Go and was instantly lost – and I’ve never looked back. Anyone who can pull off such an exquisitely human love story and a killer uncanny atmosphere and a knock-out dissection of mortality and morality in one shot is worthy of at least a Nobel Prize – congratulations!
For my twenty-fifth birthday in 1990 a friend gave me a hardback of The Remains of the Day. Despite winning the Booker Prize the previous autumn, I hadn’t read it and was waiting for the paperback. I can vividly remember sitting on the sofa under the front window of my flat the following frosty morning, only to rise hours later aware that I was reading something so singular, intelligent and beautiful. Each of Ishiguro’s books comes back to me with a vivid sense of the reading of them. It is impossible to pick a favourite, but I will say The Buried Giant for its extraordinary originality and depth of feeling.
My favourite piece of Ishiguro’s writing is ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ from the collection Nocturnes. It’s a laugh-out-loud farce with Wodehousean plot twists masking the acute sadness of middle-aged university friends discovering their lives haven’t turned out at all as they’d have wanted.
I remember when I first read an Ishiguro novel. It was 1990 and I was sixteen. I had a new teacher. In her first lesson she said she had forgotten more novels than we as a class would ever read, but that some works would always stay with you. Her first prescription: Jane Eyre; her second: The Remains of the Day. I sometimes feel like I’m still sitting behind the curtain with a copy of Bewick’s History of British Birds, or standing beside Steven experiencing a ‘heady flush’ as he takes in the view that is also a prospect. I now think it’s not so much that the best novels stay with you. I think you never leave them.
My favourite Ishiguro novel is Never Let Me Go. It was the first book of his I read, and I completely fell in love with it and the beautifully measured style of his writing. I remember being quite upset when it didn’t win the Booker Prize that year. I’ve gone on to read many more of his books and there’s no one quite like him – you know immediately that you are reading an Ishiguro novel and it’s a very comforting feeling, one of being in such masterful hands.
The first book of Ishiguro’s that I ever read was Never Let Me Go. I was sixteen and found myself totally engrossed by the dark undertones of Hailsham’s idyll. The dreamy mist that seeps into Ishiguro’s language was singularly haunting: it’s a novel that’s stayed with me ever since.
Creative Access Intern
When I first heard what The Buried Giant was about I wasn’t sure how Ishiguro’s quiet, subtle writing would suit epic fantasy. But, of course, it worked brilliantly; the unadorned language of fable giving the novel a stark, timeless feeling. The things he leaves out, things his characters don’t know or acknowledge, leaves space for the reader to inhabit the worlds he creates. It’s what makes his writing so alluring.
Senior Consumer Marketing Manager
I will never forget reading Never Let Me Go for the first time. It was such a strange and unsettling experience, a work so original and compelling – shocking in places. I read it in manuscript, and it felt like a secret yet to be shared. I finished it on a train and found it heartbreaking, as if I had been turned inside out. For me it is such an extraordinary meditation on our shared condition, written with such humanity and truth.
A Pale View of Hills was the first book of adult contemporary fiction that I ever read, when I was thirteen, and I loved its quiet perfection.
The Remains of the Day was the first Kazuo Ishiguro novel I ever read, when I was sixteen. At the time, I was mainly reading American fiction and crime novels – all the stuff that I wasn’t being taught at school – but there in its quiet, restrained unspoken-ness was a novel I fell completely in love with. It would be a great starting point for anyone coming fresh to Ish’s work but is also a novel, like The Great Gatsby, which seems to get better each time you read it, revealing different things to you as you get older. It is a modern classic.