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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