Sunday, 10 October 2010

An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro

“If o a sunny day you climb the steep path leading up from the little wooden bridge still referred to around here as ‘the Bridge of Hesitation’, you will no t have to walk far before the roof of my house becomes visible between the tops of two pingko trees….”

This is how the book starts. As you can see just with a few lines, Ishiguro’s writing style is incredibly elegant. The last paragraph is also lovely literature but hopefully you will find that out after reading this review. Sometimes you feel you can visualize what it happening in this book which is a trait of a great writer.


The novel, which takes place in post-Second World War Japan, centers on a retired artist as he looks back to his career, comes to terms with his mistakes and revises his convictions as well his relationships with mentors, disciples and colleagues. It is very simple but at the same time with profound meaning.

I find interesting that when you read a novel that you end up liking you sort of develop certain feelings (sympathy, empathy, resentment, etc) towards its main character. I could certainly do it with this novel that with the beautifully composed writing and interesting themes makes a valuable reading.

This is the second novel I read by Kazuo Ishiguro with the first being his more famous “The Remains of the Day” (which I only finished two months ago). There are some common topics between the two: the main character, in this case a butler that used to word for an English Lord in his Oxfordshire mansion, also reflecting upon the past, his career (and its meaning and sense of purpose) and his relationship with his employer and staff.


I will probably try to read more by Ishiguro in the future. One thing I particularly enjoyed about the two novels is the way they reflect on the reader stereotypes (of the Japanese idiosyncrasy and the English post-war society) without I believe actually seeking so.

If I have to recommend one of the two I would go for “An Artist of the Floating World”. Both are very good books but “The remains of the day” only grew in me as a reader towards the end as it failed to engage me. Instead, I greatly enjoyed the former since the first sentences copied above.

Bonus track: the movie “The Remains of the Day”, with a cast including Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson and Christopher Reeve, is also very good indeed. Did you watch it? Did you read anything by Ishiguro?

1 comment:

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