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An Artist of the Floating World (Vintage International) Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- ASIN : B008WOUI5I
- Publisher : Vintage; 1st edition (September 5, 2012)
- Publication date : September 5, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 2092 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 239 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #50,209 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Now, in An Artist of the Floating World, imagine drawing propaganda posters for an imperialist dictator, and then finding that you, your talents, and everything that you believed in was wrong. What do you do at the end of WWII? Ishiguro delves into this dilemma of cognitive dissonance with great aplomb - do you dig in your heels and continue to defend your actions that supported a vicious dictator and thus ostracize yourself from your new world/society? Or do you swallow your pride, dress yourself with humility, and perhaps - at the advice of your own daughter no less - commit seppuku? Where does arrogance end and you again become human? What do you do?
This is such a phenomenal idea of Ishiguro to take on, and I feel he somewhat succeeded. Perhaps the story was too subtle for me, more so than his other books, and I struggled with trying to understand this character. Remains of the Day was by far Ishiguro's best novel (so far anyway), but this was pretty typical for his beautiful prose as he wrestles with intense moral situations. At the very least, you see that people are human in the end and make - sometimes - terrible mistakes. In this case, Ono's terrible mistake encouraged the loss of thousands of lives.
Ishiguro has another novel coming out in the Spring of 2021, and I greatly look forward to reading another of his books
Ishiguro himself talks in "Conversations with Kazuo Ishiguro" about his own fears of looking back and finding that his talents have been wasted because the social climate has done a topsy-turvy on him. (page7)
He talk further about how this happened to an entire generation of Japanese people because the moral climate changed so drastically after the second world war.
As Ono, the protagonist of "AAotFW" tells us about himself he continually talks about his standing in the world although he claims this does not interest him. Because Ishiguro is generous with details we get a good sense of Ono's life. We see him with his daughters, with his funny eight year old grandson, Ichiro and with Mrs. Kawakami, the woman who runs the bar where Ona goes for some friendly talk to pass the evenings, among others. We also feel Ono's losses because of the war, the death of his son and his wife.
In the last chapter we find Ona at peace with his life. I highly recommend this wise and beautiful novel.
Why is the main character’s grandson so obnoxious, and where does the idea of being a “man”, so important to grandfather/grandson communication, fit in? Sometimes it almost seems like comic relief, or a means of making fun of the grandfather. not worthy of the author.
Top reviews from other countries
The subject is how the Japanese came to grips - or failed to do this - with their war-guilt and the cataclysmic impact of American occupation. Things are not neatly resolved, but this particular part of the world unfolds with immense clarity, gentleness and economy. No wonder Ishiguro got the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017.
The contrast with the long-winded and tortuous – albeit marvellously told – domestic dramas of the The Makioka Sisters (published initially in 1943) by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki is telling.
Also read Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, A Pale View of Hills and When We Were Orphans.
I believe Ishiguru's model here may have been Yasunari Kawabata, the Japanese Nobelist. An Artist of the Floating World reminds me in some ways of Kawabata's The Old Capital.
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The plot itself centres on his attempts to arrange a marriage for his remaining daughter, the first marriage plan having fallen through for unspecified reasons. Instead of any great reveal, however, the story simply fizzles out. Ulitmately a disappointment, especially read after some of his others, notably Never let me go and The remains of the day, but like I said earlier, four stars for some fine writing. Not the Ishiguru I'd recommend first though.