There are authors who write in tidy, classifiable, immediately recognizable genres — Jane Austen, Alexandre Dumas, William Faulkner, Gabriel García Márquez, to name a few — and then there are those who adamantly do not. These others can surprise us with story lines and settings that are guises to be worn and shucked after the telling. Masters of reinvention, they slip from era to era, land to land, changing idioms, adapting styles, heedless of labels. They are creatures of a nonsectarian world, comfortable in many skins, channelers of languages. What interests them above all in their invented universes is the abiding human heart.
Kazuo Ishiguro is such a writer.
He was born in Nagasaki, Japan, was raised in England from the age of 5, and, for all intents and purposes, is English. But his sensibility is neither Japanese nor English; it stands apart from any one culture. Best known for his achingly astute novel “The Remains of the Day,” about a consummate English butler in a fading postwar manse, he is esteemed, as Joyce Carol Oates put it, as “one of our most eloquent poets of loss.”
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