August’s Theme for the Japanese Literature Challenge

After seeing The Remains of The Day with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thomas last night, I realized that it was the same film as the Booker Prize winning novel written by Kazuo Ishiguro. The film was so moving that I must read the book. In fact, I want to immerse myself in Ishiguro’s writing this month.
“The Remains of The Day is a profoundly compelling portrait of the perfect English butler and of his fading, insular world in postwar England. At the end of his three decades of service at Darlington Hall, Stevens embarks on a country drive, during which he looks back over his career to reassure himself that he has served humanity by serving ” a great gentleman.” But lurking in his memory are doubts about the true nature of Lord Darlington’s “greatness” and graver doubts about his own faith in the man he served.”
“The highly acclaimed first novel by the author of The Remains of the Day and An Artist of the Floating World, A Pale View of Hills is the story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her eldest daughter. In a story where past and present confuse in a haunting and sometimes macabre way, she relives scenes of Japan’s devastation in the wake of World War II, even as she recounts the weirdnesses and calamities of her own life.”
From Booker Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro comes a devastating new novel of innocence, knowledge, and loss. As children, Kathy, Ruth and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules–and teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them so special-and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is another classic by the author of The Remains of The Day.
Nocturnes recalls Ishiguro’s best-known novel, The Remains of the Day. In its surreal touches it resonates with The Unconsoled. And in its deceptively simple exploration of love and loss, it builds on the achievement of Never Let Me Go…It is clear that this exquisite stylist is serious in his pursuit of a minimal-perhaps even universal-mode of expression for the emotional experiences that define our lives as human.” ~The Times
And so I think that we should explore Ishiguro’s work further during the month of August. Perhaps you have already read one or more of his novels; in that case, I relish your perspective on what you have read. Others of you may be like me: discovering his writing for the first time.

17 thoughts on “August’s Theme for the Japanese Literature Challenge”

  1. I've never read The Remains of the Day, but I've watched the movie several times. I love Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and think this is a marvelous film. So very sad at the end, though… 😦

    I have Never Let Me Go in my stacks, but I'm not sure I can fit it in this month. Maybe this year. 😉

    I tried When We Were Orphans last winter, but gave up after two dozen pages.


  2. I have read Remains of the Day, Unconsoled and When We Were Orphans. Have greatly enjoyed all and Remains of the Day is one of my all-time favorites. Hope you enjoy discovering Ishiguro!


  3. Hope you enjoy reading Ishiguro's works in August, Bellezza. I have read 'The Remains of the Day' and loved it. I want to read 'The Unconsoled' sometime. It is nice that you are broadening the horizons of the Japanese Literature Challenge and including books written in English by authors of Japanese origin. Will look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Ishiguro books. Happy reading!


  4. After reading these comments, I feel I'm the only one who hasn't read these two books! I think I should have chosen a different theme for August, but I'm glad you liked them. If you did, I'm sure I will.


  5. So, so, so sad at the end. I think the hardest part to bear was his realization of all the opportunities lost. Especially his chance to be with Emma's character, let alone his disillusionment with his employer in general and his life's work in particular. That would be crushing, to look back at one's life with that much regret.

    I'm sorry When We Were Orphans didn't work for you. I wonder how it will effect me.


  6. I never even heard of Unconsoled, that's how much I know of Ishiguro! Well, that and the fact that though he is Japanese he was brought up in England. I'm sure it gives him some very interesting perspectives. Glad to know that Remains of the Day is one of your all time favorites!


  7. I so love the Japanese literature I've read, translated into English, even though I wish I could read it in the original! Not in this lifetime, though. I can't even remember much of the French I've taken!


  8. I still haven't read Ishiguro, and I have Never Let Me Go on my shelves as we speak. I used to have The Remains of the Day, too. I want to read it now more than ever. And I've had Nocturnes on my wishlist for ages. If I can get through some other commitments, I may jump in!


  9. Ohhh I'm so excited for you. I'm in love with Ishiguro esp. When We Were Orphans, An Artist of the Floating World, Nocturnes, and The Remains of the Day. I've read all his books so a reread would be in order. The Unconsoled was my very first in my youth and it was very strange though interesting and I liked its oddity very much though I don't remember much of it now and didn't completely understand it when I read it so that would be my choice if I decided to read along with you.


  10. Andi, as I me tinned to Vasilly above, perhaps the three of us could read Never Let Me Go together. I might make a post about it to see if there are any takers, although everyone but us seems to have read Ishiguro before! 😉


  11. How lovely to hear rom you, Claire, I always love it when you pop in for a visit. I remember reading Ishiguro posts on your blog first, in particular when you read Nocturnes. I'm glad to know he's such a favorite of yours.


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