British author Kazuo Ishiguro has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his acclaimed novels, which include The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.
The Swedish Academy explained that through his “novels of great emotional force,” Ishiguro “uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”
Ishiguro—whose family left Japan for Britain when he was just 5 years old—is perhaps best known for his 1989 masterpiece The Remains of The Day, a sweeping story of unspoken love that won the Booker prize, and was later adapted into a Oscar-nominated film starring Anthony Hopkins.
When speaking to the Swedish Academy after learning he had won the Nobel, Ishiguro was not shy in expressing how honored he is to have been recognized.
“I don’t think it will sink in for a long time,” he said. “I mean, it’s a ridiculously prestigious honor, in as far as these kinds of things go.”
Ishiguro’s celebratory tenor was in stark contrast to Bob Dylan’s reaction when he won the same award last year. The singer notoriously refused to accept his award in person, and his refusal to play ball almost resulted in Dylan being stripped of the honor.
When asked if Ishiguro was a less controversial choice for the prize, Swedish Academy member Sara Danius emphasized that there was absolutely zero correlation between the two winners. “We’ve just chosen what we think is an absolutely brilliant novelist.“
While Ishiguro’s oeuvre spans eight novels and a handful of short stories, his 2015 novel Never Let Me Go, is as good a place to start as any if you’re looking for an entry point into his work. Though the novel is firmly entrenched in the genre of dystopian sci-fi—which marks a major departure for Ishiguro—it still touches on the themes of history and personal memory that have been a through line of his work.
After hearing that he’d won, Ishiguro told reporters that the themes he explores feel especially urgent considering the current state of things. “I hope that these kinds of themes will actually be in some small way helpful to the climate we have at the moment.”