Kazuo Ishiguro has been one of the most thought provoking authors to me. Today, I finished reading ‘An artist of the floating world’, my 4th novel by the writer. This work, as most of his other works, portrays and enunciates the thoughts and world view of the protagonist. The work moves forward in a given period of time, while progressively looking backwards, in no specific chronological order at various people the character came across and how they subconsciously participated in his evolution as a disturbed individual, which he denies till the end.
Ishiguro always shows the transience of human nature, how it moulds itself according to the person’s assimilation of himself and events around him. The central proponent might be dealing selective areas of occupation, be it a pianist, a butler, a detective or an artist. That doesn’t stop them from justifying their actions and the impact they have had on society, their importance in the hoi polloi. On the first read, it would appear as if the agonist is entirely composed of the best ideas and notions about existence and rightful living. As the novel meanders into the deepest recesses of thought process, we come to realize that the initial righteous image of the person through his own dictation is flawed. Every human is perennially in doubt of their choice of path and purpose of existence, and would go to any lengths to vindicate the same, at whatever cost.
The prose, which initially makes us allies of the hero, thus complicit with his actions brings out our own tendency to side with what we think is right. Later on, as we are brought face to face with his cracks in personality and the inherent weakness of will to come to terms with failure as a human being we see the reflection of our own insecurities. It makes us uncomfortable, afraid to realize that Pianist Ryder, Butler Stevens, Artist Ono and Detective Banks are all around us, in us.
That, is the genius of Kazuo Ishiguro.