Thursday, October 5, 2017

Nobel Prize in Literature 2017 goes to Kazuo Ishiguro

Kazuo Ishiguro is a British writer - a traditional novelist with some  popular appeal. A Japanese who migrated to UK when he was just five, and subsequently raised in England.. Has an oeuvre of seven/eight novels, wrote just one novel in last 10 years. Interestingly, he's a school-trained writer( has an MA which is equivalent to MFA), and probably the first one to have received the Nobel Prize. 

He was not on Ladbrokes or any betting site. The SA's picking of him has surprised a lot of people simply because he happens to be a writer that no one was talking about and even betting on.

He is best known for his novel "Remains of the Day" which was also filmed.

The same novel - that still sits in my shelf- I tried to read some years ago.  I remember I had put it down halfway through. It seemed so dull and austere to me. He was obviously not my kind of writer.

Ishiguro is, to my mind, not that influential or important in the way  Salman Rushdie or Margaret Atwood is. But he is lucky to have a godfather in Kenzaburo Oe, the Nobel Laureate, who has been recommending him for more than a decade. His cross-cultural background and apolitical stand in these turbulent times seems to have helped him.

He is of course, a safe choice after last year's controversial  Bob Dylan.

But Salman Rushdie and Haruki Murakami might have to eventually suffer because of this selection. Rushdie is not going to win the Nobel Prize in next four tears, and for Murakami, the original Japanese writer, there is really no hope for the Prize at all.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Is "The Vegetarian" popular for the wrong reason?

Just finished "The Vegetarian" by Han Kang. It's a Booker-winner and has got rave reviews in the West. It's about a schizophrenic woman (Yeong-hye) who stops eating meat and begins to think that she is a tree. Her life is of course pitiable and sad, and Han Kang portrays her wonderfully with realistic details. But why would anyone care about this? Incorporated in the storyline is a long session involving a video-artist (In-hye's  husband) who has all kinds of wild and immoral fantasy and infatuation around Yeong-hye, and preys on her until he gets his desire fulfilled . This section is visceral and erotic, may be in an unintended way. Is this the reason why so many critics and readers loved it?  

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