An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro came to my attention via another book review blog. The author also wrote The Remains of the Day, which is one of my favorite movies. Ishiguro was born in Japan in 1954 and moved to England in 1960.
This novel takes place in post WWII Japan and is narrated by Mr. Ono, a retired Japanese artist. It is a story which provokes deep thought about life and the choices we make according to the dictates of our conscience and the world in which we find ourselves. Mr. Ono takes us back to his childhood and forward to the present day where he is trying to arrange a marriage for one of his daughters.
As a teacher, I appreciated this book because Mr. Ono remembers his relationship as a young man with his mentor, the relationships he had as a young man with fellow artists, and then the students he eventually mentored in adult life after achieving success in the art world. Although my thoughts may not have been the same as Mr. Ono’s, from time to time, I too reflect upon the teachers who have been my guides, my writing peers, and the young writing students I have been fortunate to mentor.
The book has a political overtone due to the era in which it takes place. Ishiguro has done a splendid job of weaving all the pieces into a vivid verbal picture. The novel won the Whitbread Book of the Year award in 1986. I think it is wonderful.