Like millions of people the world over, the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro, trusts the BBC.
He was at home in Golders Green in London on Thursday (October 5), about to sit down to brunch, when his agent rang to tell him the good news.
“I thought it was a hoax in this time of fake news and everything,” he said on a Guardian video posted on YouTube.
“So I asked them to check up because I hadn’t heard at all – I thought the normal procedure was that the winner is told first. So I didn’t believe it for a long time.
“Then my publisher phoned. And finally when the BBC phoned, I thought it might be true.”
Ishiguro is probably most famous for his novel The Remains of the Day, for which he won the Booker Prize in 1989, and which was adapted into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson in 1993.
His first book was A Pale View of the Hills, set in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb, and Ishiguro’s own birthplace.
His family moved to England when he was five in 1960 for his father’s work as an oceanographer, and he is a British citizen.
He also told The Guardian: “Part of me feels like an imposter and part of me feels bad that I’ve got this before other living writers. Haruki Murakami, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy, all of them immediately came into my head and I just thought wow, this is a bit of a cheek for me to have been given this before them.
“And because I’m completely delusional, part of me feels like I’m too young to be winning something like this. But then I suddenly realised that I’m 62, so I am average age for this I suppose.”
When he heard the news Rushdie issued a statement: “Many congratulations to my old friend Ish, whose work I’ve loved ever since I first read A Pale View of the Hills. And he plays the guitar and writes songs too! Roll over, Bob Dylan.”
This last was a reference to Dylan’s unexpected winning of the award last year.
The Nobel judges praised Ishiguro as a writer “who in novels of great emotional force, have uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.
Immediately after the announcement, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius said: “If you mix Jane Austen and Kafka, you have Ishiguro – but you have to add a little bit of Marcel Proust into the mix, and then you stir, but not too much, and then you have his writings. He’s developed an aesthetic universe all his own. He is exploring what you have to forget in order to survive in the first place as an individual or as a society.”
The Washington Post said Ishiguro’s work is marked by “a sense of painful loneliness”.
Ishigura himself told The Guardian: “I hope that some of the themes I’ve tried to tackle in my work about history, not just personal memory but the way countries and communities and nations remember the past. And how after they bury the uncomfortable memories from the past.
“I hope these kinds of themes will be in some small way helpful to the climate we have at the moment, because I think we’ve entered a very uncertain time in the world.” – Vivien Horler