Unreliable narrator wins

Kazuo Ishiguro has himself a Nobel prize.

Mr. Ishiguro, 62, is best known for his novels “The Remains of the Day,” about a butler serving an English lord in the years leading up to World War II, and “Never Let Me Go,” a melancholy dystopian love story set in a British boarding school. In his seven novels, he has obsessively returned to the same themes, including the fallibility of memory, mortality and the porous nature of time.

That description of Never Let Me Go is very incomplete, I guess because spoilers? But surely bans on spoilers can’t last forever, and anyway you couldn’t review the book properly if you avoided saying what it’s about. The “dystopian” part [spoiler alert] is that the “students” in that “boarding school” were bred by the state for their parts; they die after their 5th or 6th removal.

In a career that spans some 35 years, Mr. Ishiguro has gained wide recognition for his idiosyncratic, emotionally restrained prose style. His novels are often narrated in the first person, by unreliable narrators who are in denial about truths that are gradually revealed to the reader. The resonance in his novels often comes from the rich subtext — the things left unsaid, and gaps between the narrator’s perception and reality.

I do love an unreliable narrator. I’m like Emily Bronte that way.

He published his first novel, “A Pale View of Hills, about a middle-aged Japanese woman living in England, in 1982, and followed with “An Artist of the Floating World,” narrated by an elderly Japanese painter, set in post-World War II Japan.

When he wrote “The Remains of the Day,” Mr. Ishiguro worried that he was repeating himself by writing another first person novel with an unreliable narrator, but critics saw the book as an extreme departure.

“I was afraid that people would say, ‘Oh, it’s the same book again, about an old guy looking back over his life with regret when it’s too late to change thing,’ ” he said in a 2015 interview with The Times. “Instead, they were saying, ‘Your books are always set in Japan; this is a giant leap for you.’ I get this with almost every book.”

And the Nobel.

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