8 January 2008

Kazuo Ishiguro, An Artist of the Floating World, 1986

In post-war Japan, the successful artist Masuji Ono was a man who once played a small part in the rise of Japanese militarism, but years later, with a more contrite political climate and a daughter looking for an approving husband, he believes that what the Japanese are referring to as ‘the past’ is now casting a shadow over the present. The pivotal events on which this book turns are small, but in those microcosms the receding background of the damaged psyche of an entire nation becomes apparent. Plotwise there is little more to this story, but each page reads like an incremental tightening of the noose as Ono, a rather vain but upright man, believes he must head off the consequences of his past actions as his daughter’s marriage prospects become paramount. With some marvellous and sensitive conversational sequences, this is a masterfully delicate and closely observed book. Recommended.   PY

  An Artist of the Floating World was shortlisted for the 1986 Booker Prize, and won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for the same year.

No comments: