Kazuo Ishiguro’s third novel, The Remains of the Day, earned the 1989 Booker Prize, England’s highest literary honor. The book is, in effect, a character study of Stevens, an aging butler who has spent thirty years in service at Darlington Hall. As he considers his past, he is forced to come to terms with the gravity of the sacrifices he has made in the name of duty.
Ishiguro’s first two novels were set in Japan, so The Remains of the Day represents a departure in the author’s work. Still, it is consistent with his writing style in that the book is told from a firstperson point of view by a person who faces past self-deception and regret. Further, the tone is controlled, the language is carefully crafted, and the themes revolve around the position of the individual within a society. While some critics maintain that although Ishiguro’s setting is not Japan, the book retains a strong sense of the author’s Japanese heritage, Ishiguro is quick to disagree. He responds by saying that most of his life experience has taken place in England and that his fictional influences are Britain’s writers. Ishiguro’s choice of subject matter in this book—and the realism with which he depicts it—demonstrates the importance of England’s past and culture to him.
Did this raise a question for you?