The Swedish Academy has made a stunning choice, once again: the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017 is awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".
An author of great integrity who still remains versatile and up-to-date, Kazuo Ishiguro has created an aesthetic universe all of his own – a unique mixture of Jane Austen and Frantz Kafka with a little bit of Marcel Proust is how the Permanent Secretary of the Academy, Sara Danius, described it.
"The Remains of the Day", "The Unconsoled", "When we were orphans", "Never let me go", "The Buried Giant" are some of the laureate's novels that have been published in Greek. His narrative style is characterised by his attempt not to redeem the past but, instead, to explore that which we have to forget in order to survive - as an individual and as a society. This subtle feeling even permeates the film whose scenario he wrote – mono no aware is the term in the Japanese cultural tradition that describe the pathos of things, or a certain sensitivity to ephemera that transcribes in the, so distinctive, melancholy in Ishiguro's pages.
"The world is in a very uncertain moment and I would hope all the Nobel Prizes would be a force for something positive in the world as it is at the moment," he said. "It's a magnificent honour, mainly because it means that I'm in the footsteps of the greatest authors that have lived, so that's a terrific commendation." That translates to an award "flabbergastingly flattering".
An author of eight books which are translated in 40 languages, Kazuo Ishiguro loves music – he has admitted that it plays a significant part in his writings. You can clearly read it in the Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. But that's not all. Ishiguro has also written the lyrics for some songs of the Αmerican jazz singer Stacey Kent. (In two of her albums, actually).
Following Bob Dylan's award, this year's Nobel Prize in Literature combines narration and music again and it somehow shows that the Swedish Academy knows their way in multiple territories. It certainly does offer a timely and insightful recommendation for the present of the things.