Kazuo Ishiguro has won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Although Kazuo Ishiguro has been on my To Be Read list for decades, my first and only direct encounter with Ishiguro’s work came in 1995 while I was writing for The Gauntlet and tasked with reviewing The Unconsoled. One of the sad realities of the world is that there is never enough time. Never enough time to explore all the avenues we have before us, never enough time to be with our loved ones, and never enough time for all the books in the world. Each passing year adds more and more; more possibilities, more family and friends, and more books. During those years as book reviewer, my reading choices were never fully my own and each book sent to me for review meant another book whose reading I had to delay. Such choices formed one of the themes of The Unconsoled.
Simultaneously I was summoned to Disneyland to celebrate the Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary of my grandparents that same year. I was in my twenties, headed to Disneyland for the first time, after having worked ten years already at a theme park to put myself through university and rather bitter about the whole experience. It was a strange trip, one that included a chance encounter with Leonard Nimoy in Reno airport as I flew to meet the rest of my family in Los Angeles, and one that saw me spending three days wandering around the labyrinthine and fantastical cartoon playground, struggling to find the time to read Ishiguro’s sprawling 500+ tome about a concert pianist in an equally strange and foreign city, with too many demands on his time, too many awkward encounters, and a general inability to take control of his schedule. At the same time, I couldn’t help but look on Disneyland through the eyes of an industry professional, comparing notes. Reading The Unconsoled was like reading about myself through a mirror: strange, discomforting, and unreal.
Ishiguro is more widely known for The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, but The Unconsoled is my touchstone for Ishiguro. Not one of my favourite books, it remains one of my most vivid reading experiences. It seemed a metaphor for my own weird holiday and I would love to revisit it one day to see how time and distance, memory and experience, have altered my perspective on it, the same way that revisiting Disneyland with a family of my own, with my own young children, has changed my perspective on that theme park. If only there was more time.