Meeting Kazuo Ishiguro

14 Apr

Kazuo Ishiguro is probably the most famous author I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Maybe Khaled Hosseini could rival him, but that’s debatable. Either way, Ishiguro was a great person to meet and hear read.

IMG_1535He was doing a signing about an hour before the reading so Nicole and I went and got in line about 4:45. Of course, I picked up his latest book, The Buried Giant. While we were waiting in line, we got the terrible news that we could only have two books signed! I was heartbroken. I had a copy of The Buried Giant for myself, one for my father-in-law, and a copy of my favorite of his novels, Never Let Me Go, for myself. Luckily, the kind soul standing in front of me in line heard my plight and offered to take on of my books for me because she only had one! Thank you, kind soul! So I got all three books signed. Ishiguro is a pro and got through 200+ people in line in two hours without seeming rushed or dismissive. He was even nice enough to take this picture with us.

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There were some refreshments and then it was time to get in line and rush to get good seats. Luckily, I’m super pushy and we got seats about 7 rows back right on the aisle. The awesome picture of Ishiguro below was taken by Nicole while he was reading.

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Ishiguro read Chapter 11 from The Buried Giant to the full crowd. It took him about a half hour reading at a moderate pace. He was very comfortable with his words and you could tell he’d done this several times before. As you can see in the picture, he read from a paperback copy of the book. I’m guessing it’s a proof copy, but I thought it was interesting he chose to use this instead of the final hardbound book.

He agreed to answer questions for the second half hour of the event from the audience. Before you get too giddy, no, I did not ask my author question (How do I get to where you are) because of a fear of talking in front of so many people. He talked mostly about Giant and how it was an unconventional love story because it was a story about those already in love who had to remember why they were in love. The concept sounds very interesting. The couple is afraid of the bad that comes with the good parts of their relationship. They fear separation from each other and never finding out the truth more than they fear death.

Asked about his books, Ishiguro said that he’s fascinated by stories (plot-driven books) and likes trying to blend genres to find a new way to tell stories. One of his older books that I was unfamiliar with is called The Unconsoled and he said it was an attempt to try a new approach to storyline. Instead of being written as a memory or as a current progression of facts, he tried to write about a current progression where the people the character met brought back memories though there weren’t real flashbacks. I had trouble understanding what he was saying and I think only by reading the book would I really understand.

The buried giant in the title referred to secrets and history of the UK that’s been pushed aside but needs to be recalled. There are surely buried giants in any nation’s history and past. The novel plays with remembering and forgetting. How does a nation remember or forget compared to an individual? Are we deceiving ourselves when we forget? I like the concept.

Ishiguro was asked what books were most influential to him as a writer. He gave two, the first is Marcel Proust. He said Proust was a bit dry for him but that in the middle of the text there were great passages that moved him. He wanted to create passages in fiction that moved people in the same way. It was an element to fiction that wasn’t part of visual description and action, something that was more philosophical. He described it as a ‘texture of memory.’ The other book that influenced him was Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. He said he didn’t mean for it to be very influential, but that he’s found passages of that book that are very similar to his own. He uses a style in which the characters are confiding in the reader and sometimes withholding vital information in much the same way Jane does. I thought that it was interesting he admitted to being so influenced by a book to have the same elements in his own work.

Overall, it was a great experience and one I wouldn’t change for anything. It was well worth being tired while I was in Texas!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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4 Responses to “Meeting Kazuo Ishiguro”

  1. Book Club Babe April 15, 2015 at 12:48 AM #

    Great post! Loved reading your experiences. I didn’t get a photo with him, because I felt guilty for having him sign my 3 books! lol still a priceless experience though!

    Like

    • Sam April 15, 2015 at 6:20 AM #

      I had the picture with a friend so we felt less badly. Also, we prepped it with three people in front of us and did it in about ten seconds haha. Glad you had an equally awesome experience meeting him!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Angus Miranda April 20, 2015 at 5:30 AM #

    Is this in DC? A friend also went to Ishiguro’s book talk and signing, and he had a copy signed for me. This friend also mentioned the Proust and Bronte stuff so maybe you two were in the same room.

    Like

    • Sam April 20, 2015 at 6:05 AM #

      That’s funny that he mentioned the same things because this was in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He’s on a US book tour right now. He must be asked that question a lot!

      Like

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