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Kazuo Ishiguro wins 2017 Nobel prize in literature

British author bested top contenders, including Haruku Murakami, to win 9-million-kronor prize

Image Credit: Reuters
Kazuo Ishiguro

Stockholm: British author Kazuo Ishiguro, best known for his novel The Remains of the Day, won the Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday, the Swedish Academy said.

Ishiguro, "in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world," the Academy wrote.

Ishiguro bested other top contenders including Haruki Murakami of Japan, whose works fuse the realistic and the fantastic, and Kenya's Ngugi wa Thiong'o, whose political work forced him to leave for the United States, for the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize.


The selection of the 62-year-old Ishiguro marked a return to traditional literature following two years of unconventional choices by the Swedish Academy for the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize.

"He's a very interesting writer in many ways," said Sara Danius, the academy's permanent secretary. "I would say that if you mix Jane Austen - her comedy of manners and her psychological insights - with Kafka, then I think you have Ishiguro."

Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, but moved with his family to Britain when he was 5.

The academy said that Ishiguro's eight books are works of emotional force that uncover "the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world."

In "The Remains of the Day," a butler at a grand house looks back on a life in service to the aristocracy. The book's gentle rhythms and "Downton Abbey"-style setting gradually deepen into a darker depiction of the repressed emotional and social landscape of 20th-century England.

The 1993 film adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Like "The Remains of the Day," his 2005 novel "Never Let Me Go" is not what it seems. What appears to be the story of three young friends at a boarding school gradually reveals itself as a dystopian tale with elements of science fiction that asks deep ethical questions.

His 1986 novel "An Artist of the Floating World," in which a Japanese artist looks back on his life, was a finalist for the prestigious Booker Prize for fiction. He won the Booker in 1989 for "The Remains of the Day."

Last year's award to American Bob Dylan sparked a debate about if popular song lyrics can legitimately be considered literature. Alfred Nobel, the Swedish industrialist and inventor whose will established the prizes, said he wanted the literature award to honor "ideal" work, without defining the term.

The first singer-songwriter to win the prestigious prize, the rock legend didn’t comment on his Nobel for several weeks and then snubbed the formal prize ceremony in Stockholm.

Each February, the Academy makes a list of all the nominations it has received by those eligible to do so – including former laureates and university professors – before reducing it to five names in May. The members then spend the summer reading those writers, before making their choice in October.

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