Kazuo Ishiguro brings The Buried Giant to Edinburgh

Kazuo Ishiguro brings The Buried Giant to Edinburgh

The internationally renowned British author Kazuo Ishiguro spoke of his struggles to write his first novel in ten years at an Edinburgh International Book Festival event last night.

The author of seven novels, including The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, launched his latest book, The Buried Giant, in front of a sell-out audience at the Lyceum Theatre.

In conversation with Serena Field, Ishiguro admitted that, as he gets older, only very special projects motivate him and he will only undertake a new piece if he believes it to be worth the angst of writing. ‘I don’t wish just to contribute to the quantity of novels. If I write a book, I want to contribute to changing the skyline of the literary landscape – it has to be a little different, and I find there are fewer and fewer of these as I gain experience as a writer.’

He spoke of both the critical and public reaction to his new book, expressing surprise that there was so much interest in the mythical landscape of the novel, particularly his use of ogres. He said ‘I went into this rather naively and didn’t intend to step into the fantasy genre. But novels are really rather difficult to write, and I get desperate when I’m trying to make the story work. I have a kernel but pieces of the jigsaw are missing. I needed a land where people were suffering a collective memory loss, a peculiarly controlled memory loss’.

He spoke of his use of a first person narrator in a number of his books where he wishes the reader to eavesdrop on a conversation between the narrator and an imaginary listener rather than the narrator speaking directly to the reader. In The Buried Giant he uses the device as a tour guide to the mythical past in which the story is set. He disclosed that his original intention was to have a narrator which would gradually be revealed to be the ghosts of slaughtered innocents, but as the novel progressed this became more obscure and, by his own admission, half-hearted. While traces of the idea were still there he thought it unlikely that many readers would be aware of it.

Book Festival Director Nick Barley, who introduced Ishiguro to the stage, announced that, thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, this was the first in a series of events in which the Book Festival would be taking authors, books and reading to audiences across Scotland throughout the year.


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