Kazuo Ishiguro Additional Biography


Kazuo Ishiguro (ihsh-ih-GEW-roh) was born on November 8, 1954, in the Japanese city of Nagasaki, the son of Shizuo and Shizuko (née Michida) Ishiguro. In 1960, his father, an oceanographer, moved with his family to Guildford, near London, because the British government offered the scientist a job in connection with the exploration of the North Sea oil fields. Although the family initially assumed they would soon return to their native land, they found many practical reasons to stay in England, including the fact that Ishiguro’s father loved the comparative lack of social obligations in his new country. The family’s temporary stay became a permanent one, and Kazuo Ishiguro and his two sisters found themselves immersed in British culture.

Sent to what he described as a typical British school, Ishiguro felt fully integrated there. Reading with pleasure the novels of classic nineteenth century British writers, such as Charles Dickens and Charlotte Brontë, and growing up with the works of other influential European writers, such as Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov, Ishiguro nevertheless retained certain crucial ties to his native culture. His vision of Japan was formed by strong childhood memories, Japanese films of the 1950’s, and the Japanese books that arrived every month at home, where the family conversed in Japanese. His interest in films portraying a Japanese past that he himself remembered has remained very strong, and he acknowledges these films as a major artistic influence.

In the 1970’s, after completing his high school education, Ishiguro traveled and sustained himself with a variety of odd jobs. Taking his cues from his young British peers, he set out for countries, such as the United States and Canada, that fascinated them all. He did not feel a need or desire to physically explore a Japan with which he felt connected through his imagination. After a short stint as a grouse beater for the Queen Mother at Balmoral Castle in 1973, and employment as a social worker both before and after receiving his B.A. (with honors) in English and philosophy from the University of Kent in 1978, Ishiguro decided to try...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Kazuo Ishiguro’s desire to craft complex protagonists, whose experience is radically removed from the life of their author, has led to the creation of a remarkably diverse array of powerful literary characters who have fascinated an international audience. All of his first-person narrators tell of the primal conflict in their lives in their very own, intensely unique ways; they must all come to terms with past actions that have tainted their lives.

Despite their various shortcomings, which most often result from half-blind disregard for the consequences of their actions or the happiness of others and themselves, Ishiguro’s characters are nevertheless offered a final vision of grace that redeems rather than condemns them. This ultimate expression of a guarded optimism is a trademark of Ishiguro’s fiction.


Born in Nagasaki in 1954, Kazuo Ishiguro moved to England in 1960 with his family, settling outside of London. Although they assumed they would eventually return to Japan, they never did, for living in England suited them. Ishiguro became a British citizen in 1982; in 1986, he married Lorna MacDougall, a social worker, and they have one daughter. In 1989, he returned to Japan for the first time.

Both before and after attending the University of Kent, he hitchhiked around the United States and Canada and worked at a variety of odd jobs, including helping homeless people. He graduated from Kent in 1975, and later graduated from the now-celebrated but then little-known creative writing course at the University of East Anglia run by Malcolm Bradbury. He published his first short story while still in this program. Shortly after graduating, he published his first novel, A Pale View of Hills (1982), followed by An Artist of the Floating World (1986), The Remains of the Day (1989), which won the Booker Prize, When We Were Orphans (2000), and Never Let Me Go (2005), a runner-up for the Booker Prize. The Remains of the Day was later turned into a film, and Ishiguro has written two original screenplays, The Saddest Music in the World and The White Countess. While his first two novels used Japan as their setting, others have not. Most of Ishiguro’s fiction addresses the theme of identity and how one uses memory to maintain a sense of self and dignity.


Kazuo Ishiguro Published by Gale Cengage

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, on November 8, 1954, to Shizuo (an oceanographer) and Shizuko (a homemaker). When he was six, he...

(The entire section is 325 words.)