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Author Study: Kazuo Ishiguro Curated by Kelly Wu '20

Welcome! Explore this LibGuide to learn about author Kazuo Ishiguro.

The Life of Kazuo Ishiguro


Kazuo "Ish" Ishiguro was born on November 8th, 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan. In 1953, England had just experienced the devastating North Sea Flood. The flood had been severely damaging, 2500 were killed and countless homes were ruined. As a result, the British government looked to invest in ocean studies. Shizuo, Ishiguro's father, 29 at the time, was a brilliant ocean scientist at the Nagasaki Marine Observatory. He was then recruited by the British government to build an ocean observatory machine. Therefore, Kazuo Ishiguro, at the age of five, moved with his family to Guildford, Surrey in England.

His family had moved to England expecting the stay to be temporary, around a year or so. Because of that, Ishiguro's parents approached their move as a visit rather than a stay, and did not attempt to adapt to the foreign culture around them. Ishiguro later recalled in an interview that his mother would order him Japanese educational digests and his grandparents would regularly send the family care packages containing Japanese goods to ensure that he grew up with the Japanese culture. The stay in England, however, proved to not be temporary, and Ishiguro had a very unique childhood in the small town of Surrey. 

The teenage Ishiguro wanted to be a singer songwriter. This passion of his continued throughout his high school years into his early twenties. So in the 1970s, Ishiguro rocked a beard, hair down to his shoulders, and never parted with his guitar. He prepared many demo recordings and went around to record companies in hopes of achieving his rock star dream."I remember Virgin, Chrysalis, Warner Brothers, etc. all being surprisingly indulgent and helpful given how dreadful my demos were" Ishiguro said in an interview.

In 1974, Ishiguro began his studies at the University of Kent, eventually graduating in 1978 with a BA in literature and philosophy. It was during this time, Ishiguro came to the "gradual acceptance" that he would "fail in the music world," and turned his focus onto his literary pursuits. In 1980, Ishiguro graduated from the University of East Anglia with a master's degree in Creative Writing. While a student in university, Ishiguro was active as a social worker. He was particularly involved in working with the homeless, an experience that came to impact the subjects of his writing. While working as a social worker, he met his wife, Lorna, and the two got married in 1986. The two had a daughter, Naomi, in 1992. 

Ishiguro's literary career started with a success, receiving much acclaim for his first novel A Pale View of Hills, which was published in 1982. He became truly recognized on an international level in 1989 for his novel The Remains of the Day. During this time, he also became an official British citizen. As of today, he has published a total of seven novels, and has been recognized by a multitude of awards and titles including the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. Ishiguro is currently residing in London with his wife, Lorna.

The Ishiguros at the Nobel Prize Awards ceremony.