Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nobel Prize in Literature: Lessons for us as readers

Kazuo Ishiguro Nobel Prize 2017

Don’t get me wrong; however, I did not know who Kazuo Ishiguro was until I heard that he has won the Nobel Prize in Literature for the year 2017! On the official website of Nobel Prize itself, there was a pole which asked – have you read anything by Kazuo Ishiguro? I clicked on the ‘no’ option and to my surprise, 67% of the people who answered the poll replied a ‘no’. Well, this is certainly the bad of us (me and all other who don’t know him) that we don’t know about a person who has been four times nominee for the Man Booker and one-time winner as well. Then, the question arises – how come most of us are like this? Certainly, there is a part of blame which should also fall on the side of ‘uncertainty’. What we like reading; what have we been reading? What is our literary taste these days? Many factors are there which come into play.

As readers, sadly and surprisingly, we have been inclined towards reading the literature which has an ephemeral effect on our mind and senses – like a thunderbolt of excitement which lasts mostly few minutes and vanishes into the oblivion. And maybe that’s why we still believe that the times of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens was rather better than today, in the terms of literary production. Their taste – writing as well as reading – was certainly cherishing something which was permanent and noble. Ours has become casual and leisure and hasty. And in the same unrest, we tend to overlook the authors who have that spark… and sadly, the same happened with the latest Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro!

His honour has given us a chance of introspection and self-searching. (I am deliberately keeping soul-searching away from this business of words.) And at the same time, we do have a task in our hands to learn to be in a better position for the much-needed ramification between casual literature and literature of value. Delhi University has shown us the doorway to an intellectual hell where the poor students would never come to know about authors as Kazuo Ishiguro (save his Nobel Prize) but would be reading Chetan Bhagat! What are we trying to make of our society’s future ‘intellectual’ generation?

I will certainly be reading all the novels by Kazuo now and as the initial go-through has suggested, I am sure I will be satisfied and enlightened as well as enabled. And I will also advise all my friends and known-ones, please go through the works of this author and see for yourself why such silent warriors of words are chosen for the awards rather than the pompous show-offs whom you will find in a press-conference or on some tv-interview most of the times!


Alok Mishra