Sweden:5/10/17:The English novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, known for his spare, elliptical prose style and his inventive subversion of literary genres, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday. Mr. Ishiguro, 62, is best known for his novels “The Remains of the Day,” about a butler serving an English lord in the years leading up to World War II, and “Never Let Me Go,” a melancholy dystopian love story set in a British boarding school. In his seven novels, he has obsessively returned to the same themes, including the fallibility of memory, mortality and the porous nature of time.
“If you mix Jane Austen and Franz Kafka then you have Kazuo Ishiguro in a nutshell, but you have to add a little bit of Marcel Proust into the mix,” said Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of The Swedish Academy. “Then you stir, but not too much, then you have his writings.”
Ms. Danius described Mr. Ishiguro as “a writer of great integrity.”
“He doesn’t look to the side,” she said. “He has developed an aesthetic universe all his own.”
In a statement released by his publisher, Mr. Ishiguro expressed astonishment at the award, calling it, “amazing and totally unexpected news.”
“It comes at a time when the world is uncertain about its values, its leadership and its safety,” he wrote. “I just hope that my receiving this huge honor will, even in a small way, encourage the forces for good will and peace at this time.”
Born in 1954 in Nagasaki but educated in Britain, Kazuo Ishiguro is known for, among other things, his lyrical prose, his acute sense of place and for his masterful parsing of the British class system.
Mr. Ishiguro was born in Japan the son of an oceanographer, and moved to Surrey when he was 5 years old, and attended Woking Grammar School, a school that he told The Guardian was “probably the last chance to get a flavor of a bygone English society that was already rapidly fading.”
In an interview with The Times two years ago, Mr. Ishiguro said that he had discovered literature as a young boy when he came upon Sherlock Holmes stories in the local library. “I was around 9 or 10, and I not only read obsessively about Holmes and Watson, I started to behave like them. I’d go to school and say things like: ‘Pray, be seated’ or ‘That is most singular.’ People at the time just put this down to my being Japanese,” he said, adding that he was attracted to the world of Conan Doyle because it was “so very cozy.” It helped ignite his interest in literature.
After studying English and philosophy at the University of Kent, in Canterbury, he spent a year writing fiction, eventually gaining a master of arts in creative writing under the tutelage of writers such as Malcolm Bradbury and Angela Carter. He has also written lyrics for the American jazz singer Stacey Kent and plays the guitar.
“My friends and I took songwriting very, very seriously,” he told The Guardian in an interview. “ My hero was and still is Bob Dylan, but also people like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell and that whole generation. We would endlessly discuss the relationship between words and music and how they had to come alive within the context of performance.”
Mr. Ishiguro stood out early among the literary crowd. In 1983, he was included in Granta’s best of young British writers list, joining luminaries such as Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie.
His deep understanding of the social conventions and affectations of his adopted homeland were conveyed in his third novel, “Remains of the Day” which won the prestigious Booker prize and depicted a buttoned-up butler, who was later immortalized in a film by the same name starring Anthony Hopkins. Mr. Ishiguro later said he had written the book in four weeks at the age of 32.
Describing the writing process for the book that cemented his literary stardom and labeling the process “the Crash,” he wrote in The Guardian: “Throughout the Crash, I wrote freehand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I’d established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere — I let them remain and plowed on.”