Kazuo Ishiguro: A World View through Multiple Perspectives and Sympathy

Yanagi, Allison
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
When thinking of the Asian diaspora, one might think of the numerous Chinatowns that exist all over the world. One might also think of Korean emigrants scattered throughout America or the communities of Japanese Americans that populate the west coast of the United States. However, few people would think of displaced Japanese living in Camden Town, England. In fact, the Japanese have never established a well-known community in Great Britain as the Chinese and eastern Indians have; so it is unexpected to find that world-renowned writer Kazuo Ishiguro is a first generation Japanese who was raised in England. Because his literature creates such an impact upon readers, people ask Ishiguro about his literary influences. Although Ishiguro was raised in England, people assume that he is Japanese because of his name, and they want to know which Japanese writers have affected his style and with whom his technique is most similar. However, Ishiguro surprises people when he tells them that his major influences are European writers, like Chekhov and Dostoevsky. In an interview with Gregory Mason, he stated: I feel that I'm very much of the Western tradition. And I'm quite often amused when reviewers make a lot of my being Japanese and try to mention the two or three authors they've vaguely heard of, comparing me to Mishima or something. It seems highly inappropriate. I've grown up reading Western fiction: Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Charlotte Bronte, Dickens. (An Interview 336)
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