Add to bookbag
Author: Chu-chueh Cheng
Title: Making and Marketing Kazuo Ishiguro's Alterity
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
Fall 2005

This work is protected by copyright and may be linked to without seeking permission. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Please contact for more information.

Source: Making and Marketing Kazuo Ishiguro's Alterity
Chu-chueh Cheng

vol. 4, no. 2, Fall 2005
Article Type: Essay

Making and Marketing Kazuo Ishiguro's Alterity

Chu-chueh Cheng


Kazuo Ishiguro's Japanese ancestry often envelops his work with oriental mystery; his writing is accordingly deciphered in the codes of Japanese aesthetics. The exotic sound of Ishiguro's name to Western ears and the ubiquitous display of his face, both on books written by him or about him, inspire immediate associations of him with Japan. In addition to the physical features and the autobiographic details that occasion the ubiquitous association of Ishiguro with Japan, book-cover illustrations and the background settings of Ishiguro's earlier works, such as early short stories, A Pale View of Hills (1982), and An Artist of the Floating World (1986), encourage the reader to regard him as an ethnic Japanese novelist writing in English. Although as a novice Ishiguro capitalized on his Asian heritage, he later endeavored to reposition himself as an author addressing universal human issues. To define himself as such, the novelist has to downplay the impact of his motherland. Whether Ishiguro dramatizes or downplays it, however, his Japanese ancestry has an undeniable market appeal and hence remains the focus of ongoing discourses about him. This essay takes great interest in the impact of Ishiguro's ethnicity on defining him in the contemporary literary arena. It first looks at the terms, such as postcolonial, ethnic, and immigrant, with which Ishiguro is often described. It then judges how fitting these terms are in characterizing his style and theme, and, ultimately, explores what the making and marketing of Ishiguro's alterity reveals of the cultural context in which his texts are so voraciously consumed and yet so fallaciously categorized.

Kazuo Ishiguro's Japanese ancestry often envelops his work with oriental mystery; his writing is accordingly deciphered in the codes of Japanese aesthetics. The exotic sound of Ishiguro's name to Western ears and the ubiquitous display of his face, both on books written by him or about him, inspire immediate associations of him with Japan. [1] In addition to the physical features and the autobiographic details that occasion the ubiquitous alliance of Ishiguro with Japan, book-cover illustrations and the background settings of Ishiguro's earlier works, such as early short stories, A Pale View of Hills (1982), and An Artist of the Floating World (1986), encourage the reader to regard him as an ethnically Japanese novelist writing in English.

Asian origin did pave Ishiguro a shortcut to success—a fact the novelist himself readily admits. In an interview with Allan Vorda, Ishiguro acknowledges that the international recognition of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children in 1981 helped usher in a whole line of ethnic writers, and that the trend of multiculturalism in Britain then facilitated Ishiguro's embarkation on a writing career in the early 1980s. While attributing the instant success of A Pale View of Hills to "this Japanese face and this Japanese name," Ishiguro is keenly aware that the label of ethnic Japanese has since become a straightjacket, restraining him from growing as "an artist and as a serious writer" (8, 9).

Although as a novice Ishiguro capitalized on his Asian heritage, he later endeavored to reposition himself as an author addressing universal human issues. To define himself as such, the novelist has had to downplay the impact of his motherland. Against the generally held assumption that Japanese culture exerts a profound influence on him, Ishiguro repeatedly emphasizes that his Asian background constitutes just one of many forces that have shaped his authorship. Whether Ishiguro dramatizes or downplays it, however, his Japanese ancestry has an undeniable market appeal and hence remains the focus of ongoing discourses about him.

This essay takes great interest in the interplay of Ishiguro's self-definition, his publishers' promotion, readers' expectations, and critics' categorizations. The sections that follow provide an examination of terms such as postcolonial, ethnic, and immigrant with which Ishiguro is often described, and evaluate how fitting these terms are in characterizing his style and themes. The essay concludes with an exploration of what these labels disclose about the inevitable entanglement of racial identity, commercial strategies, thematic concerns, and authorial intention in the process of making and marketing Ishiguro as an internationally popular novelist.

Ishiguro's critics approach his writing from diverse angles. Cynthia F. Wong roughly divides their approaches into three categories: examination of "postcolonial elements," analysis of "technical aspects," and "thematic concerns linked to Ishiguro's Japanese heritage" (Kazuo 90). As separate as these methods may seem, they are actually interconnected by their collective consciousness of Ishiguro's Asian background: they more or less relate the novelist's Japanese heritage to his thematic concerns, rhetorical techniques, and narrative style. Meera Tamaya's "Ishiguro's Remains of the Day: The Empire Strikes Back" links thematic postcoloniality with the novelist's racial identity. Susie O'Brien's "Serving a New World Order: Postcolonial Politics in Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day" addresses the racial politics of marketing Ishiguro in world literature. In "Zen Comedy in Postcolonial Literature: Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day," John Rothfork detects in Ishiguro's topical interests Oriental religion and philosophy. Correlating Japanese aesthetics with Ishiguro's narrative techniques are Peter J. Mallett's "The Revelation of Characters in Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day and An Artist of the Floating World" and Gregory Mason's "Inspiring Images: The Influence of the Japanese Cinema on the Writings of Kazuo Ishiguro." Except for those focusing solely on the discursive structure of Ishiguro's writing, such as Kathleen Wall, Deborah Gurth, Phelan James, and Patricia Mary Martin, critics tend to describe the novelist and his writing in ethnicity-related terms, such as postcolonial, immigrant, and ethnic Japanese.

The aforementioned critical approaches evince that Ishiguro's racial alterity is discursively equated with his novelistic deviation from the mainstream literary creation. By the same token, Ishiguro's Asian ancestry, when studied in the context of British imperialism, is deciphered in terms of political resistance, artistic variation, and geo-cultural displacement. Each of the following sections will consider the suitability of a specific label in depicting Ishiguro and his work, speculate about the intention(s) of critics who promptly ally him with their chosen groups of writers, and explore the discourses of otherness within which these markers operate.


Ishiguro is sometimes referred to as a postcolonial author because his Japanese ancestry evokes an immediate association of Asian colonies of the British Empire. Pico Iyer groups Ishiguro with Booker-prize winners of postcolonial backgrounds and considers him "an exile from Japan" (46). Graham Huggan aligns Ishiguro with Carl Philips and Salman Rushdie in the category of marketable exotic novelists; he characterizes them as novelists of "canonical status" whose works are "legitimately 'minor'" (84). On the website of Contemporary Postcolonial and Postimperial Literature in English, Ishiguro is grouped with Hanif Kureishi and Timothy Mo in the category of postcolonial authors from the United Kingdom while Salman Rushide and V. S. Naipaul are respectively listed as those from the Caribbean and India.

Ishiguro himself defies such an alliance, in particular the frequent comparison of him to Rushdie, Mo, and Naipaul. Ishiguro deems his style "the antithesis of Rushdie's or Mo's" because "[t]heir writing tends to have these quirks where it explodes in all kinds of directions" (qtd. in Vorda 9). Indeed, Rushdie writes in a convoluted style, half realistic and half surrealistic, deliberately bewildering the reader; Midnight's Children, narrated by a clownish persona, revolves around the monumental event of India's independence. Mo, on the other hand, prefers a linear and realistic narration with a gentle touch of humor; Sour Sweet (1982) relates how the Chens, a Chinese immigrant family, manage to make a living in London. Naipaul concerns himself with the dark recesses of human nature and articulates them in a tone of melancholy and pessimism; he is particularly attentive to the immense ideological collisions between the First world and the Third world. The Mimic Men (1967) and The Enigma of Arrival (1987) recount the disturbing confusion indigenous elites from the Caribbean islands undergo after the collapse of British imperialism.

When grouped with Rushdie, Mo, and Naipaul, Ishiguro is assigned to a margin where the corresponding center remains elusive. Ishiguro differs from the other three novelists in the fact that he comes from a former empire instead of a former colony, and that his narratives do not revolve around the consequences of Japan's decolonization after World War II. That Ishiguro is classified as a postcolonial author partially bespeaks readers' unfamiliarity with the Japanese imperial history; they seem unwittingly to associate Japan with British colonies in Asia, such as India, Hong Kong, or Singapore. The dominance of Britain, France, Germany, and America in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century often obscures the fact that Japan, too, rose as a fearsome power at the turn of the 20th century. After the first Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895), Japan took full control over Taiwan and South Manchuria. In the wake of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), Japan established Korea as its protectorate and in 1910 officially annexed it. Taiwan, Manchuria, and Korea remained under the Japanese colonial rule until the end of Second World War. During the War (1937-1945), Japan's military aggression reached far and beyond in East Asia. Launching a large-scale invasion of China in 1937, Japanese subsequently seized northern Indo-China, southern French Indo-China, and then invaded Siam, Hong Kong, Burma, North Borneo, the Philippines and Pacific Islands in 1941. These military aggressions aimed to ultimately establish a "New Order in East Asia" (Timeline 2-3; Chronology 1-2; The First Phase 1-2). Against the widely held misconception that all Asian countries fell into the hands of Western powers, Japan established its own empire in East Asia.

Just as the grouping of Japan with British colonies in Asia is historically ungrounded, the link of Ishiguro with postcolonial writers such as Naipaul, Mo, and Rushdie seems feeble. As Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin lucidly define, postcolonial literatures from different regions of the world are bound by the fact that "they emerged in their present form out of the experience of colonization and asserted themselves by foregrounding the tension with the imperial power, and by emphasizing their differences from the assumptions of the imperial center . . ." (2). In contrast to writers of Britain's former dominions, Ishiguro does not have memories of a homeland ravaged and exploited by the British Empire. Britain—the country in which Naipaul bemoans the decadence of a bygone empire, Rushdie ridicules ideological fallacies of the former colonizer, and Mo voices Chinese immigrants' bewilderment on the adopted land—stands for Ishiguro as a location for multiple narrative possibilities. Different from Rushdie, Mo, and Naipaul who assert identifiable ideological claims and challenge the specified center of Britain, Ishiguro appears evasive in his approach to imperialism.

Instead of revolving around the consequences of decolonization, Ishiguro's narratives foreground the psychological turmoil of civilians whose lives the Second World War has drastically altered and the socio-cultural transmutation the war inevitably has occasioned. A Pale View of Hills, An Artist of the Floating World, The Remains of the Day (1989), and When We Were Orphans (2000) collectively present a horrid picture of the war from haunting memories of ordinary people from Japan and Britain. [2] Ishiguro is particularly attentive to misled idealism—such as Masuji Ono's militarist advocacy in Artist and Stevens's blind loyalty in Remains. In the ineffable past each of his narrators agonizingly recalls, Ishiguro portrays evil as an outcome not only rooted in certain scheming politicians but also aided by naïve civilians whose patriotism is too often manipulated for imperialist aggressions and personal gains. Between Britain and Japan, Ishiguro situates himself in a third locale where he examines contrapuntally how Japan and Britain, rivals of World War II, sustain the drastic erosions of traditional values in the face of the postwar dominance of a rising superpower, America.

When depicting Japan or Britain at a historical juncture, Ishiguro opts for an indigene's perspective. Pale portrays a war-ravaged Nagasaki through the disturbing memories of Etsuko, a Japanese widow who survived the atomic bombing but has since sought solace in the rural serenity of England. Etsuko daughter's recent suicide propels her to look back at those turbulent years during the Allied Occupation. Artist unfolds the recollection of a retired artist, Masuji Ono, whose wartime militarist advocacy subjects him to irredeemable shame and guilt; drastic changes in social structure and the prevalence of American influence also invoke in him nostalgia for pre-war Japan. Remains delineates, from an aging butler's viewpoint, the demise of the British Empire—metaphorically represented through the transfer of ownership of Darlington Hall from an English aristocrat to an American businessman. Stevens, the butler, while lingering in memories of the Hall's bygone splendor, strives to accommodate the American owner's tastes. Set in the dual locations of China and Britain, Orphans captures Britain's political and commercial entanglement with China between wars. From the disjointed remembrance he still retains, Christopher Banks, an English detective, pieces together a picture of disillusionment in which once high-minded individuals like Sir Cecil and Uncle Philips are both villains and victims of their political ambition or religious causes.

When Tamaya and O'Brien examine Remains in the light of post-colonialism, they are actually extrapolating the colonial dialectics of the conqueror and the indigene to the social binary of the master and the servant. Comparing the relation between Lord Darlington and Stevens to that of "the colonizer" and "the colonized," Meera Tamaya contends, "Ishiguro uses that consummately economical and British literary form—the novel of manners—to deconstruct British society and its imperial history" (45). Similarly, Susie O'Brien notes Ishiguro's attempt to challenge "the notion of benevolent paternalism which was invoked to legitimate the deployment of power by the British ruling class, both at home and abroad" (789). What Tamaya and O'Brien perceive to be a postcolonial element may be more aptly characterized as the working class's awakening to its role as accomplice to Britain's global colonization. Stevens's memories of the two wars and Lord Darlington's involvements in the Nazi organizations contribute to the history viewed from below. The subtle subversion Tamaya and O'Brien discern in a butler's version of history also seem evident in Pale, Artist, and Orphans, which similarly unfold history through fragmented memoirs of civilians whose views of the war are either overlooked or obliterated in official documents.

Tamaya and O'Brien, however, identify merely one facet of the imperialism Ishiguro intends to portray. Rather than confining his narrative within the conventional struggle of a former empire and its ex-colony, Ishiguro deploys a third element into the scene, purporting to capture the multifarious nature of imperialism through the change of Britain/Japan from former conquerors to newly dominated territories. Pale, Artist, and Remains, revolving around the personal losses of three individuals, are noticeably situated in the period of postwar political transition. With its unequaled military presence and economic capacity, America swiftly replaces older powers such as Britain and Japan and becomes an empire of a new sort. The postcolonial element in Ishiguro's texts differs from that in Naipaul's or Rushdie's writing: it lies less firmly in the former colony's reassertion of its once-deprived agency than in the former empire's recent experience of the loss and humiliation it used to inflict upon others. Stevens's subtle scorn on Farraday's American way of doing things, Ono's vehement resistance to American influences, and Setsuko's avid admiration of American wealth collectively illustrate the indigene's attraction and anguish in the face of an alien dominant force.

But to conclude that Ishiguro purports to disparage America's postwar colonization may risk overlooking other thematic strands he weaves into the narratives. Creating civilian narrators from both the victorious defender Britain and the defeated aggressor Japan, Ishiguro takes a double-edged approach to imperialism: he at he once pities the humiliation former empires endure and ridicules the glaring vulgarity the rising empire exhibits. Even when addressing the Japanese reaction to American-led Allied Occupation, Ishiguro juxtaposes diversified, if not oppositional, responses from individuals of different generations and genders. While the older generations such as Ogata-san and Mrs. Fujiwara of Pale and Ono of Artist repudiate American influence, the younger generations such as Sachiko and Jiro of Pale and Suichi, Taro, and Ichiro of Artist embrace them as the hope for Japan's future. In depicting Americans' growing dominance in postwar Britain, Ishiguro allows civilians of diverse socio-cultural backgrounds to voice their responses; though Stevens derides Americans' vulgarity, his compatriots such as Harry Smith heartily welcome their notion of democracy and egalitarianism. Set in prewar China, Orphans captures imperialism in a vaster scale, for more rivaling powers have come into play in the game of dominance. A former empire collapsed after two Opium Wars, China is, during the time of narration, externally besieged by Western forces such as the British opium-traders and Japanese militarist-aggressors, and internally divided among regional warlords.

Ishiguro's narratives neither center on imperialism per se nor condemn any specific imperial entity; what recurrently preoccupies the novelist are the warfare calamities civilians endure. In addition to the disquieting memories of loss and regret, each of the aforementioned novels captures the transitional moment in which individuals witness warfare re-shaping the landscape of international politics, turning their homelands into informal colonies of emerging powers. Perhaps the phrase more adequate to characterize Ishiguro's thematic preoccupation is "postwar" rather than "postcolonial," partly because Pale, Artist, Remains, and Orphans attend to the psychological trauma and socio-cultural reconfiguration that the Second World War has occasioned and partly because the phrase "postcolonial"—either as historical marker or ideological adjective—contradicts the fact that former colonizers are ironically undergoing informal colonization.


The fact that Ishiguro moved to England at the age of six encourages a number of critics to ally him with other authors of similar migratory experiences. Bruce King claims to discern an affinity of "new internationalism" in Shiva Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Buchi Emecheta, Timothy Mo, and Ishiguro, for they write about "their native lands or the immigrant experience from within the mainstream of British literature" (193). Dominic Head defines immigrant writers as the "multicultural personae" in a post-war Britain, citing Ishiguro, Rushdie, Mo, and Naipaul as prominent figures of the set (156-87). Sheng-mei Ma groups Ishiguro with "Asian-Diaspora" authors such as Pai Hsien-yung, Nieh Hua-ling, and Bharati Mukherjee. Ma considers Ishiguro "a child of Asian Diaspora" and his writing symptomatic of the novelist's "split personality" and "buried self" (Immigrant 40, 41). [3]

The label of immigrant writing cannot describe Ishiguro's thematic preoccupations without occasioning considerable debate. While migratory experience informs Ishiguro of the particularities in Japan and grants him an inside-outsider's (or outside-insider's) perspective of Britain and Japan, the experience per se never occupies the center stage of his writing. Instead of foregrounding the autobiographical details as immigrant writers often do, Ishiguro weaves strands of personal displacement and nostalgia seamlessly into stories of others' lives instead of his own. It is understandable why Ma judges Ishiguro as deliberately evading his Anglo-Japanese experience and characterizes the topical evasion as an act of "postethnicity" ("Persistent Dream" 72). Yet, Ishiguro does not so much, as Ma contends, bypass his cross-cultural encounters as process them in his address on a grander scale of postwar global dispersion. He depicts Diaspora as a tragedy more communal than individual, a disjunction more historical than geographical, and, most noticeably, a phenomenon more global than regional.

Though each of Ishiguro's novels is set at an interesting juncture of two or more cultural forces, only Etsuko of Pale actually shares his experience as a Japanese immigrant in England. Narrators of subsequent novels such as Ono of Artist, Stevens of Remains, and Banks of Orphans are respectively Japanese in Japan, Briton in Britain, and British expatriate temporarily residing in China. Even in Pale, Etsuko's reminiscences center more on her sorrow in Japan than on a maladjustment in England. She recalls that after moving to England, her elder daughter, Keiko, a child born to her first marriage in Japan, lived in self-inflicted isolation and refused even minimal contact with other family members. This cross-cultural strand, if further developed, could have turned Pale into a story of immigration. Ishiguro, however, interlaces this particular thread into a narrative of trauma, for he leaves unresolved the question of whether Keiko was traumatized by alienation in England or the bombing-incurred horror. Ishiguro addresses the issue of immigration indirectly through Etsuko's sparse and fruitless interaction with Niki, a child born in Etsuko's second marriage to a British journalist. The mother-daughter discord, indicative of generation gap and cultural barrier that estrange first-generation immigrants from their children, remains deliberately underdeveloped, for it serves primarily as an outer structure to frame as well as occasion Etsuko's reminiscence of war-ravaged Nagasaki.

Among Ishiguro's published works, two of his earlier short stories "A Sometimes Strange and Sadness" (1980) and "A Family Supper" (1980) contain elements that may be loosely related to immigrant writing. Michiko of "Sadness," like Etsuko of Pale, is a Japanese immigrant in England haunted by memories of war-devastated Nagasaki. The interaction of Michiko and her Britain-born daughter Yasuko, likewise, parallels that of Etsuko and Niki: the Japanese mother is both culturally and emotionally isolated from her English daughter. Just as Pale revolves around Etsuko's guilt about negligent motherhood, "Sadness" centers on Michiko's remorse for the death of a close friend during the war. Ishiguro could have correlated Michiko's sorrow with her seclusion in England and developed it as the story's primary thematic concern, but he chooses to foreground the haunting incident of the Nagasaki bombing in Michiko's reminisces.

The unnamed narrator of "Supper," a male Japanese who left for the States after the war, returns to Japan to reunite with his remaining family members. [4] Cultural and generational conflicts are implied in the narrator's interaction with his father and observation of Japanese customs, but these clashes never surface as the focal point. Rather, "Supper" gyrates around the father's preparation of fugu, a poisonous fish caught off the Pacific shores of Japan, for the family supper. The detailed description of fugu, assumed suicide of the narrator's mother, and business failure of the narrator's father alarm the reader to the possibility that the bereaved family, out of grief and despair, may attempt to kill themselves by consuming the poisonous fish. A subtext to the major storyline, the narrator's expatriate experience in America serves to de-familiarize Japanese quotidian practices: from the returned native's perspective, fugu eating assumes the exoticness of ritualistic death. "Sadness" and "Supper" allude to a large-scale exodus in postwar Japan during which Japanese of younger generations seek a hopeful future in the West. The migratory experiences of both stories, however, remain peripheral to the core narratives about war-shattered Japan.

The contrived obscurity Ishiguro exercises on "Sadness" and "Supper" continuously operates in his treatment of immigrant experience. Departing from immigrant writers' common practice of capitalizing on their (or their parents') first-hand encounters of value clashes in an adopted land, Ishiguro creates narrators of markedly diverse backgrounds. Etsuko in Pale, a Japanese widow, lingers in the guilt of her neglect and the horror of a traumatic past. An aging artist, Masuji Ono in Artist regrets his wartime complicity in militarism. In Remains, Stevens serves in Darlington Hall as a butler who witnesses, with ineffable shame and regret, the fall of his former master. In The Unconsoled (1995), Ryder, a celebrated English musician, arrives in a European town for a presumably monumental occasion but fails to complete any mission expected of him. An accomplished detective from England, Christopher Banks in Orphans returns to China searching for his missing parents. None of these fictional characters bear any immediately recognizable resemblance to Ishiguro himself or either of his parents.

The narrators of Naipaul's, Mo's, or Rushdie's stories, on the contrary, encourage immediate association with their authors. The first-person writer-narrator in The Enigma of Arrival presents a semi-autobiographical account of Naipaul's journey from Trinidad to England. The Chen family in Sweet Sour resembles Mo's in their readjustment to the Chinese community in London; Lily Chen's mastery in boxing noticeably parallels Mo's experience as a professional boxer in real life. The detail that Saleem Sinai, the narrator of Midnight's Children, was born on August 15, 1947 at once reflects Rushdie's ancestry and addresses the challenge of constructing an Indian history in the wake of colonialism. While Naipaul, Mo, and Rushdie portray human sufferings as a process engendered from the alteration of locations—the motherland and the adopted land—Ishiguro depicts them as an outcome originated from a disjuncture of moments—the Second World War and the postwar period. Haunted by memories of loss and guilt, Ishiguro's characters are more temporally incarcerated than spatially dispersed, for they can neither secure a firm foothold in the capricious present nor flee from the catastrophic past they dread remembering.

When creating his fictional characters, Ishiguro implements a chameleonic tactic: each of his narrators assimilates into the particular setting in which he/she is situated. As Norman Pages remarks, Stevens parallels Etsuko and Ono in their discursive styles, for Ishiguro is remarkably dexterous in "transferring to an English context a mode of communication and behavior that resembles the Japanese in its use of highly formal surface to cover tensions, concealments and self-deception" (167). Whether he sets a story in Japan the motherland, Britain the adopted land, or a third locale, Ishiguro navigates it with equally admirable poise. At the intersection of two or multiple cultures, he construes a discursive site that at once enables individuals to reflect upon their personal losses and corrals societies into ideological contention so as to expose their respective fallacies.

Each poignant story of wartime recollection, intermittently, is lightened up and hence complicated by the author's subtle subversion; he inserts astute remarks to ridicule the complacency of rivaling societies. His cultural mockery operates in tactical intricacy. Inverting an immigrant's bewilderment in a foreign land with a native's contentment in the comfort of his/her homeland, Ishiguro challenges his readers to ponder issues of Diaspora outside of the established framework of alien location and racial identity. Rather than the marginal figures of adopted societies, Ishiguro's narrators are often natives on the home front. Artist attends to Ono's apprehension that American influences—in the forms of Popeye the Sailorman and the Lone Ranger—have undermined Japanese traditions of communal harmony and the junior's reverence to the elder. Remains delineates, from Stevens the English butler's perspective, how Britain has swiftly succumbed to America's economic and political supremacy; the butler strives to accommodate the peculiar demands of his American employer, in particular his ungentlemanly propensity for "bantering." Christopher Banks in Orphans experiences re-entry shock as he, after the mysterious disappearance of his parents, returned from Shanghai to attend boarding school in England, where he, perceived as "an odd bird," suffers the anxiety of being different from other schoolboys.

To study Ishiguro's writing in the discourse of immigrant or Diaspora literature, one must bear in mind that, although the novelist disperses his trans-cultural experiences into the individual lives of his narrators, his link with each narrator derives from the impressionistic melancholy of nostalgia and bereavement they endure instead of the realistic correspondence of the actual and fictional events he and they encounter. One also needs to attend to the textual detail that Ishiguro's narrators reminisce about their poignant pasts in their home countries rather than endure the challenging existence in a foreign land. These narrators are ensnared in a particular segment of time and thus unable to move on with their lives. The sense of estrangement Ishiguro addresses is deep-seated within rather than inflicted upon from without, for the war has so drastically altered the social structure and personal lives that individuals feel just as much menaced at home as they would abroad. What Ishiguro recurrently tackles is the sense of alienation a native involuntarily undergoes in the postwar era, so it will probably be more truthful to name Ishiguro's writing as Literature of "Inverted Diaspora" or "Immigrant at Home."

Ethnic Japanese

In addition to a postcolonial or immigrant writer, Ishiguro is sometimes characterized as an ethnic Japanese author writing in English. A considerable number of critics link the novelist's understated narrative with the Japanese self-suppressive rhetoric, identifying in his novels noticeable signifiers of Japan. Valerie Purton claims that " . . . the surface of [Artist] is more overtly Western but the deeper interests just as firmly Japanese," and that Ono's confession in front of the family of his prospective son-in-law is "a sort of verbal hara-kiri, parallel to the actual ritual suicides of several of Ono's contemporaries" (174, 175). On Artist and Remains, Peter J. Mallet also remarks: "Ishiguro's gradual revelation of his characters is . . . influenced by the gentle restraint of Japanese culture and is an integral nature of his art" (19). Many others subscribe to this association of Japanese aesthetics with Ishiguro's poetics. Bruce King writes: "[Ishiguro's] instincts are for the nuanced, the understated, elegant but significant gesture, similar to the deft brushwork of Japanese painting" (207). Stanley Kauffmann compares Ishiguro's unique style to Japanese painting, for it conveys "taciturnity, the subtle brush strokes, the aim to evoke form rather than to create it" (43). Rebecca Walkowitz discerns "the assertive Japaneseness" in the suicide in Artist and considers Keiko's suicide in Pale "the preeminent signifier of Japanese culture" (1062).

The aforementioned critics presume that the rhetoric of prevarication Ishiguro deploys is tightly correlated, if not completely innate, to Japanese discursive patterns. But Purton, Mallet, King, Kauffmann, and Walkowitz infer their respective conclusions primarily from Ishiguro's earlier novels Pale, Artist, and Remains and possibly project their impressions of the first two novels onto the third one. The fact that Ishiguro is an ethnic Japanese writing in English and that Pale and Artist are set in Japan and narrated by Japanese figures indeed encourages immediate association of his narrative style with an intricate rhetoric distinctive of Japanese. Discursive restraint, however, is not a feature exclusively Japanese, for the British, too, hold a reputation of reticence. Widely hailed as a very English story, Remains defies the postulation that Ishiguro's writing exudes a distinctively Japanese aura. If Stevens, as book teasers and literary critics thus depict him, exemplifies the quintessential English butler, then his rhetoric in Remains should echo the oratory of the British aristocracy he emulates rather than a discursive style inherent to Ishiguro's Japanese ancestry.

The conflation of Ishiguro's racial identity and aesthetic approach may very well derive from the image of the Oriental other with which Ishiguro established himself in the early 1980s. This indelible impression continues to determine how his subsequent novels are promoted and received. Ishiguro's Japanese origin proves an appealing marketing tactic that publishers and editors, most possibly with the novelist's coy consent, avidly adopt when promoting his writing. Granta's brief authorial biography for "The Summer after the War" (1983) concludes with a hint of the novelist's exotic eccentricity: "Ishiguro lives in London, where he sleeps during the day, and eats enormous quantities of food at night. He is of samurai descent" (120). The novelist is intentionally portrayed as one whose biological clock permanently stays in the time zone of Japan and whose samurai ancestry remains essential to his authorship.

In the two editions published by Faber & Faber, the illustrations of Pale similarly parade its Japanese setting. One, stylized by Andrzej Klimowski, depicts a segment of female face with the right eye staring upward at a flame-like object, half-reminiscing and half-entranced. The other edition, designed by Pentrgram, reproduces a woodblock print, portrays a scene of visitors looking from the harbor over a hill (an immediately discernable Mount Fuji). [5] The first Vintage International edition of Pale features an Asian mother and her daughter under a branch of cherry—a visual image markedly intended to recapitulate the text and indicate its Japanese setting. Two versions of Artist by Faber & Faber are correspondingly reminiscent of the novel's Japanese location: one presents a photograph of a white lantern adorned with Japanese floral painting in subdued colors while the other features ukiyo-e [6] (traditional Japanese painting of the floating world) on a pleasure quarter with Mount Fuji visible from afar. The First Vintage International edition of Artist adorns the black cover with a partial image of an Asian woman vaguely drawn in the upper right-hand corner, a quasi-Chinese Zodiac or Ying-yang symbol fixed at the center, and some Orient-motif ornamental patterns scattered here and there. Though arranged by different publishers and for various editions of Pale and Artist, these cover designs unanimously capitalize on Ishiguro's exoticness so as to pique the Western readers' curiosity for stories written in a language they understand, about an Oriental world they cannot quite fathom.

While the publishers such as Faber & Faber and Vintage International purposefully highlight Ishiguro's Japanese origin to boost the sales of his texts, critics who attend to Ishiguro's Asian background assume that his writing style is somehow culturally predetermined. Such a presupposition does engender remarkably perceptive parallels between Ishiguro's writing and Japanese aesthetics in rhetoric, cinema, and painting. But reviewers of the ethnicity-oriented approach may have overlooked the artistic growth the novelist underwent prior to the publication of his Japanese novels Pale and Artist. Published in the early 1980s, "Strange and Sometimes Sadness," "The Summer after the War" (1983), and "October, 1948" (1985) evince that Ishiguro has crafted his art to attain the maturity of his distinctive rhetoric—a style occasionally attributed to the influence of Japanese mannerism.

"Sadness," "Summer" and "October" respectively share with Pale and Artist comparable Japanese themes and characters. A Japanese woman residing in England, Michiko of "Sadness" recalls that during the war in Nagasaki, her friend, Yasuko, and she worked waited for a better future. Yet, the atomic bombing killed Yasuko and devastated the city. Michiko, now settled in England, is still haunted by the losses of those for whom she cared and the shattering of dreams she once held dear. The storyline of "Sadness" reads, in hindsight, like a finger practice of Pale: both delineate what the atomic bombing has devastated and how the memory of this calamity continues to afflict the survivors. "Sadness," however, lacks the elaborate circumlocutions that Pale features: while Michiko unfolds her past chronologically, Etsuko reveals hers circuitously through the misery of a possibly imaginary friend, Sachiko. The psychological delineation of "Sadness" is straightforward and lucid: Michiko acknowledges her remorse for arguing harshly with Yasuko before the bomb killed her. Pale, on the contrary, recounts a far more convoluted past of Etsuko, who is at once preoccupied by wartime losses and ashamed of her negligent motherhood. Unfolding a guilt-ridden past through numerous digressions, Etsuko perturbs the reader with a final revelation implying that she might very well be the indiscreet woman, Sachiko and Keiko the psychologically abused child, Mariko.

In addition to "Sadness," "The Summer after War" and "October, 1948" elucidate the process through which Ishiguro gradually attains his mastery of story telling. The two stories were later incorporated into Artist, which retains not only the exact names of most characters such as Ono, Ichiro, Sintaro, Kuroda, and Mrs. Kawakami but also their roles, relationship and personalities. Ichiro, the narrator of "Summer," recalls a (possibly orphaned) childhood at his grandfather's house, where he witnesses that his grandfather, once an influential artist, is shun by his former students. When strolling in the pleasure district he used to frequent, Sensei, the narrator of "October," recalls the pinnacle of his career and the honor pupils once took in being associated with him. Together, "Summer" and "October" constitute the core configuration of Artist, in which Ono, a grandfather-artist, finds himself disorientated in the postwar collapse of traditional values and the rebellion of younger generations.

"Summer" is narrated by the retired artist's grandson, Ichiro, but its resemblance to Artist remains instantly recognizable. The short story begins with Ichiro's curiosity about the abrupt closure of his grandfather's artistic career. Though Ichiro repeatedly inquires about the absence of his grandfather's paintings, no definite answer is ever given. The family secrecy eventually unfolds itself when Ichiro overhears his grandfather's conversation with a former pupil. This student asks the retired artist for a letter of disassociation, stating that the two of them often disagree upon wartime issues. Similar to Artist, "Summer" addresses in a postwar context the role of an artist in politics. Yet, "Summer" does not reveal the retired artist's remorse through digressions and circumlocutions; from Ichiro's innocent perspective and childlike language, the younger generation's bewilderment and misery are disclosed in a linear and uninhibited fashion.

"October" presents a truncated version of Artist [7], focusing on Sensei's nostalgia for the bygone glory of Migi-hidari, metaphorically of his own faded fame. In the pleasure district, the retired artist recalls the influence he once exerted in his circle and the flattery his pupils used to heap on him. "October, " however, does not attend to the psychological injury of a repentant old man as Artist does. The entanglement of honor, conceit, guilt, and shame Ono of Artist suffers does not surface in "October," in which Sensei is chiefly portrayed as an old man nostalgic for his prewar glory. Also noticeably missing in "October" is the discursive inconsistency Ono of Artist adopts when relating a past of which he is simultaneously proud and ashamed. Juxtaposed with Pale and Artist, the linear and straightforward composition of "Sadness," "Summer," and "October" challenges the assumption that prevarication is intrinsic to the Japanese discourse and illustrate that Ishiguro has markedly developed his narrative tactics, convoluted storylines, and sophisticated characterization as his writing evolved from an earlier apprenticeship of sketchy accounts to his present mastery of fully developed stories.

The delineations of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Pale and Artist indicate that Ishiguro does not intend to portray a realistic Japan but to install the country as the historical backdrop of atomic bombings. In Pale, broad strokes of the brush render an impressionistic picture of a post-war Nagasaki. Unfolding her past in a small suburb area outside of the city, Etsuko recalls: "My husband and I lived in an area to the east of the city, a short tram journey from the centre of town" and from the window of her apartment, she could see "a pale outline of hills visible against the clouds" (11, 99). The description of the city appears just as hazy as the outline of the hills—visible only partially from afar. In her reminiscence of the ineffable past in postwar Nagasaki, exact names of streets or places are rarely given. Even when a place is specified, scenery details do not always follow. Of her excursion to Inasa with Sachiko and Mariko, Etsuko recalls: "Noises from the harbour followed us across the water—the clang of hammers, the whine of machinery, the occasional deep sound from a ship's horn . . ." (103). In Artist, Japan is captured through signs familiar to Westerners but never intended as an accurate representation. Similar to Pale, Artist is set in a metaphorical Japan with minimal regional particularities. Hiroshima, the city where Ono lives, remains unidentified throughout the novel: whenever referring to where he lives, Ono simply says "the city." Places in the city are either associated with their owners or referred to by their nicknames: throughout the narrative, the little bridge near Ono's house is alluded to as "The Bridge of Hesitation" while the bar run by Mrs. Kawakami is called "Mrs. Kawakami's."

Just as Ishiguro minimizes geographical specifics, he seldom uses the Japanese language in his stories. The scarcity of Japanese terms, except for the names of fictional characters and several geographical locations, further evinces that Ishiguro utilizes Japan more for its symbolic presence than for its actual locality. One cannot help but wonder whether Ishiguro avoids any Japanese phrases, even when they seem most needed, out of consciousness of his childish Japanese. [8]

The thematic concerns, backdrop depictions, and sparse usage of Japanese in earlier short stories, Pale, and Artist suggest that while recognizable signifiers of Japan accentuate Ishiguro's origin and subsequently help authenticate his literary constructs of the atomic bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the novelist retains a detached affection for his homeland. Disciplined preoccupation similarly operates in various stages of his career. First and mostly known as an ethnic Japanese novelist, Ishiguro has indeed benefited from the ready association (chiefly in the Western world) of his racial otherness with Oriental exoticism. But Ishiguro's Japanese stories and novels, when examined in the context of subsequent writing, constitute solely a segment of his literary creation. They stand for an earlier phase of a versatile authorship from which Ishiguro has ventured into the terrain of more diversified settings and more universal concerns. Ishiguro's subsequent publications of Remains, Unconsoled, and Orphans defy the assumption that he writes in a delicately circuitous style somehow inherent to his race or that his Japanese origin has determined the historical and geographical parameter of his topic interest. Respectively set in England, Europe, and China/England, Remains, Unconsoled, and Orphans evince that, beyond the atomic bombings in his homeland, Ishiguro attends to the postwar adjustments of other societies, addressing issues of collective concerns and creating characters of miscellaneous backgrounds. The label of ethnic Japanese writer, if once successfully in launching Ishiguro in Britain's competitive literary arena, can now confine the novelist's writing style and thematic preoccupations to a margin of racial otherness. While ethnic Japanese, as a marker, specifies Ishiguro's ancestry, it elides the diversity of his settings, characterizations, topical interests, and sometimes, worse yet, misleadingly attributes the discursive tactics he has developed and polished to the rhetorical mode of Japan the novelist is believed to have inherited.

Contemporary British or Simply International

In various interviews, Ishiguro confesses that he retains mere fragmented memories of Japan, and that he is far more immersed in the Western literary tradition than in Japanese cultural conventions. When interviewed by Vorda, Ishiguro describes himself as one "who is racially Japanese and looks very Japanese" but whose "Japaneseness" has somewhat vanished after years of residence in England (4). In a conversation with Gregory Mason, the novelist also candidly admits that his Japanese is like "a five-year-old's Japanese" (336). To Dylan Otto Krider, Ishiguro discloses his apprehension of being perceived as "a kind of Japanese foreign correspondent in residence in London" because he fears that his knowledge of Japan is actually very limited (149).

The novelist's acknowledgements, however, do not always correspond to the nature of his literary activities. In his introduction to a 1986 reprint of Yasunari Kawabata's Snow Country and Thousand Cranes, Ishiguro instructs the Western readers about the cultural context of Japan and familiarizes them with Japanese literary conventions. His introduction exhibits such an insider's expertise that one cannot help but wonder if Ishiguro is being unduly modest when proclaiming that he knows very little about Japan. Then in the year of 2000, he republished "A Strange and Sometimes Sadness," "A Family Supper," and "The Summer after The War" in Early Japanese Stories. [9] These stories construct, as Ishiguro remarks in his preface to Early, "a richly detailed placed called 'Japan'—a place to which I in some way belonged, and from which I drew a certain sense of my identity and my confidence" (11).

Juxtaposed with his words in aforementioned interviews, Ishiguro's deeds in prefacing Kawabata's novel and reissuing Early Japanese stories convey inconsistent messages. For those who associate Ishiguro's poetics with Japanese aesthetics, both acts signify the author's reassertion of his Japanese origin. Yet, those who consider Japanese themes elements with which Ishiguro experimented would prefer to view his foreword to Snow as a courtesy extended to a compatriot and the publication of Early as a finale to that phase. While the actual intention of these two activities remains contestable, it is certain that they exemplify the elusiveness of Ishiguro's authorship. Ishiguro's ancestry operates like a game he (or more precisely, he and his publishers) constantly plays with the reader: he first courts readers with his Oriental exoticness, then entertains them with stories in England, Europe and China, and occasionally lures them back to the myths of his homeland.

Disregarding the equivocation Ishiguro's words and deeds sometimes convey, a number of critics suggest Ishiguro be defined by his thematic concerns and discursive modes instead of his Japanese origin. These critics attend to the significant impact Western literary traditions have made on the novelist and the topical interests he shares with other contemporary writers in Britain. [10] Malcolm Bradbury perceives stylistic parallels between Ishiguro and other cross-cultural British writers such as Rumer Godden, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, and Michael Ondaatje, for they "have married British and other forms and traditions of fiction and storytelling, to the point of creating an internationalized and late modern fictional voice and style" (476). Ishiguro indeed echoes many contemporary novelists in voicing concerns with warfare atrocities, in particular the calamitous consequences of the Second World War. Ishiguro's "October, 1948," for instance, is collected with short stories by internationally celebrated authors such as Milan Kundera, Doris Lessing, John Updike, Nadine Godimer, and Graham Greene in a special issue of Granta (1993), entitled "While Waiting for a War." The subject affinity Ishiguro retains with contemporary authors does not go unnoticed. In her survey of current British novels about history, A. S. Byatt detects a topical link between Tibor Fischer and Ishiguro: while the former reconstructs "the Communist Hungary of his parent's generation," the latter creates "profound and complex fables . . . about the confusion and reconstructions of the post-war world" (4). Ishiguro shares with Fischer the attempt to recapture the military violence and political upheaval that has ravaged their respective homelands.

Byatt, Bradbury, and the Granta editors' depictions of Ishiguro's narrative style and thematic preoccupations parallel Oe Kenzaburo and Cynthia Wong's classification of his work. Oe Kenzaburo considers Ishiguro's style as one demonstrating a kind of strength "not very Japanese" and defines him as "an author who writes in English" (115, 117). Admiring Ishiguro's double vision as an outsider looking inside and insider looking out, Wong deems it reductive to "situate Ishiguro's Japanese ancestry as the main source of his writing"; she proposes to characterizing him as "an author who writes in English . . . sensibly and insightfully about grand human concerns" (Kazuo 10, 11). The international scope and contemporary flair the aforementioned critics notice in Ishiguro's novels indicates that in addition to his Japanese heritage, Western literary traditions, monumental events, and personal innovation have collaboratively informed his distinctive authorship.

When highlighting Ishiguro's ethnic background, the labels postcolonial, immigrant and ethnic Japanese risk eliding other equally formative factors and subsequently displace the novelist to an imaginary margin without an actual center. Although demographically a Japanese minority in Britain, the novelist has never been a minor figure in the contemporary literary scene. As early as 1983 in Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 1, Ishiguro was listed along with Pat Barker, Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, and Graham Swift. Ten years later in 1993, Ishiguro was again included in Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2 with Iain Banks, Tibor Fischer, Alan Hollinghurst, Hanif Kureishi, Ben Okri, Caryl Philips, and Jeanette Winterson. Since the early 1980s, Ishiguro has garnered a number of widely coveted literary awards, Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize for Pale (1982), Whitbread Book of the Year for Artist (1986), Booker Prize for Remains (1989), and Cheltenham Prize for Unconsoled (1995). Artist was also short-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction, and Orphans (2000) for the Whitebread Novel Award and the Booker Prize for Fiction. In 1995, Queen Elizabeth II decorated Ishiguro with the Order of the British Empire for service to literature. Recognition of Ishiguro's accomplishments goes beyond the British border. In the same year, Italy conferred on him the Premio Scano award for literature. Three years later in 1998, France bestowed on Ishiguro the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres for his achievements in literature.

In addition to novel writing, Ishiguro has involved himself in a series of high-profile commercial productions of drama and cinema. His first film-script, A Profile of Arthur J. Mason (1984) and second script, The Gourmet (1987) were broadcasted on Channel Four of BBC. Ishiguro's screenplay, The Saddest Music of the World, set in the height of the Great Depression, was adapted into a well-received film by George Toles and Guy Maddin in 2003. The latest news about Ishiguro's activities include a newly released book Never Let Me Go (2005) and a screen-script for an upcoming Merchant-Ivory production of The White Countess, a movie intending to capture the dazzling Shanghai in the 1930s.

The size and heterogeneity of Ishiguro's readership corresponds to the scope and diversity of his fictional settings and creative activities. With translations of his novels in dozens of languages, his readers spread far and beyond the English-speaking world to France, Germany, Japan, China, Taiwan, and other Asian nations. Ishiguro's global popularity places his highly staged alterity in an interesting position. While in Britain the novelist is indeed a Japanese Other to the Anglo-Saxon Self, his origin does not always connote exoticness in the international context, in which the center and the margin are not always clearly marked. It is true that the making and marketing of Ishiguro's alterity effectively distinguished him from other authors in the early 1980s. But more than two decades after his early embarkation, Ishiguro has, in thematic concerns and fictional settings, ventured far beyond the terrain of Japan and England. More recent works Unconsoled, Orphans, Saddest, and Never testify to the fact that the novelist departs from atomic bombing and misled idealism to explore subject matters on professionalism, childhood trauma, and human clones.

Having in mind a global readership, Ishiguro tackles issues that concern individuals beyond geographical borders. The labels postcolonial, immigrant, and ethnic Japanese, premised on the contention of mother/native culture and adopted/invader culture, do not capture the nature of Ishiguro's writing, in particular that of his later works. The inadequacy of the abovementioned categories necessitates a more fitting term to define him. Bradbury, Kenzaburo, Wong, and Byatt hold that Ishiguro ought to be categorized as an international novelist writing in English, and this is a classification to which I, too, subscribe. The marker international duly accords the fact that the novelist no longer orients his writing towards the metropolitan readership of Britain; he aims to reach a greater readership far and wide.  [11]

In a two-volume work World Writers in English (2003), editor Jay Parini anthologizes Ishiguro with authors of various ancestral origins whose messages, delivered in English, go beyond borders of nationality and ethnicity. [12] The title of the work evinces an alternative practice that defines authors by their topical interest and medium languages. Like the term international, world classifies Ishiguro according to what he writes and for whom he writes rather than who he is and from where he comes. To define Ishiguro as an international writer or a world writer in English encourages readers to view his Japanese ancestry as one force among others enriching his composition and thereby to appraise him within a much broader spectrum of contemporary writers. To define Ishiguro as such, most importantly, recognizes the equilibrium he retains as he traverses geo-cultural boundaries to articulate, from an alien's [13] astute observation, concerns innermost to the native.

If a piece of art work is, as Pierre Bordieu notes, "made not twice, but a hundred times" (111), then an author is similarly subject to continuing classification and reclassification by book publishers, advertising agents, literary critics, academies, and readers. In the process of making Ishiguro and marketing his writing, both the author and his texts inevitably encounter contending categorizations. A viable alternative to the markers of postcolonial, immigrant, and ethnic Japanese, the phrase international—defining an author outside the discourse of resistance and alterity—situates Ishiguro aptly with other current literary figures whose ancestral diversity renders preposterous every parading of exoticism.

Chu-chueh Cheng earned her doctorate in English Literature from Texas Christian University in the year of 2000. She is currently an Associate Professor of English at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan. Cheng has published a number of articles on Shakespearean comedy and Victorian literature. "Making and Marketing Kazuo Ishiguro's Alterity" is part of her on-going book project on Ishiguro, The Margin without Center. She can be contacted directly at

End Notes

1. While Ishiguro's photo is included on the page of authorial information in the Vintage International edition of Remains, it adorns the back cover of every Faber & Faber edition of any of his novels. Books on Ishiguro by Cynthia F. Wong and Brian Shaffer, just to name a few, frequently exhibit the novelist's photo on the front covers. Nearly every website on or about Ishiguro displays his photo, too.

2. Ishiguro's fourth novel, The Unconsoled (1995), does not fit into the discussion on postcolonial concerns primarily because its setting is never specified (though vaguely referred to as an unidentified European town); nor is the Second World War presented as a monumental event that preoccupies the musician-narrator Ryder's memory.

3. Pai and Nieh are twice-migrated writers; both were born in Mainland China, educated in Taiwan, and later establish themselves in United States. Born in India, Mukherjee emigrated in Canada before settling in the States. The three writers are known for their perennial concerns with the differences between the original society and the adopted one, the combination of hope and anguish that one experiences in a new land, and the uncertainty of what one is and where one actually belongs.

4. "A Family Supper" first appeared in an obsolete journal, Quarto, in 1980. It was anthologized in The Penguin Book Of Modern British Short Stories (1987) and Making Contact (1997), collected in Early Japanese Stories (2000), and most recently included in Literature without Borders (2001).

5. The Pentrgram's illustration of Pale is a marketing strategy via intentional fallacy, for from the heights of the Inasa district of Nagasaki, one can view the contour of the Kyushu Mountains, not Mount Fuji. The visual allusion to Mount Fuji is geographically inaccurate, but it works effectively in cementing Pale to the Japan with which most readers can readily associate.

6. Ukiyo-e prints and paints are produced in the woodblock medium to capture the lives of commoners. The use of ukiyo-e on the book cover simultaneously corresponds to the theme of the floating world and specifies the Japanese locate where the story takes place.

7. "October, 1948" reappears in Ono's first diary entry, also entitled "October 1948," in which the short story, in the exact wording is inserted (Artist 19-28).

8. The fact that Ishiguro considers his Japanese inadequate may very well explain why he uses it so sparsely in Pale and Artist. In 1989 on a visit to Japan, Ishiguro was advised not to speak Japanese because a tiny mistake might have caused "tremendous offense" (Vorda 5). Perhaps out of a similar concern, Ishiguro refrains from incorporating Japanese phrases or sentences into his English texts.

9. The book cover of Early exudes a recognizable Japanese aura: its illustration, beige adorned with a grayish blue lattice pattern, bespeaks a simplistic elegance characteristic of Japanese design. Throughout the book, Eileen Hogan's illustrations, impressionistic in style and subdued in color scheme, grace each story. The cover design and Hogan's black-and-white illustrations cooperatively evince Ishiguro's endeavor to secure his early stories with a paratext corresponding to the Japan he remembers.

10. Ishiguro himself asserts that he has found continual inspiration, if not role models, amid European and American literary figures such as Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Dickens, Hemingway, Proust, and Charlotte Bronte (Vorda 25, Shaffer 14, Shaikh 6-7).

11. In various interviews Ishiguro mentions how his book tours around the world shape the style and content of his writing for. He sees an international readership as demanding something profoundly different from that of a local one (Wong 2001, "Like Idealism" 316-317; Oe 117; Krider 154; Richards 13-18).

12. On its jacket blurb, World claims to anthologize "English-language writers from English-speaking countries outside the United States and British Isles. The two-volume work includes Derek Walcott, Wole Soyinka, J. M. Coetzee, Carl Phillips, Michael Ondaatje, Hanif Kureishi, Timothy Mo, Margaret Atwood, and so forth.

13. In a recent newspaper article, "Different Strokes for Different Folks," Norimitsu Onishi writes of the exclusiveness of Japanese language, which assigns people of Japanese ancestry to the category of foreigners. Three sets of characters are in use: Chinese characters (kanji), phonetic characters for Japanese words, and phonetic characters for foreign words (katakana). Onishi cites Alberto Fujimori and Kazuo Ishiguro as two prominent figures of Japanese origin whose names, when mentioned by Japanese mass media, are written in katakana, instead of kanji, to indicate their alien status. Ishiguro, in this sense, is globally exotic—alien to Britain, Japan, and the rest of the world.

Works Cited

Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back. 2nd ed. 2002. London: Routledge, 2003.

Bordieu, Pierre. The Field of Cultural Production. Ed. Randal Johnson. New York: Columbia UP, 1993.

Bradbury, Malcolm. The Modern British Novel 1878-2001. Rev. ed. London: Penguin, 2001.

Byatt, A. S. On Histories and Stories. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard UP, 2002.

"Chronology of the Japanese Invasion of Asia, 1894-1945." 12 May 2003:1-3. <>.

Contemporary Postcolonial & Postimperial Literature in English. 1 February 2004. National University of Singapore. 30 June 2004 <>.

Head, Dominic. The Cambridge Introduction to Modern British Fiction, 1959-2000. 2000. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2003.

Huggan, Graham. The Postcolonial Exotic: Marketing the Margins. London: Routledge, 2001.

Ishiguro, Kazuo. Ishiguro, Kazuo. An Artist of the Floating World. 1986. New York: Vintage, 1989.

—-. Early Japanese Stories. Illustrate. Eileen Hogan. London: Belmont, 2000.

—-. "A Family Supper." 1980. Making Contact. Ed. Carol J. Verburg. Boston: Bedford, 1997. 260-68.

—-. Introduction. Snow Country and Thousand Cranes. By Yasunari Kawabata. 1971. Trans. Edward G. Seidensticker. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986. 1-3.

—-. "October, 1948." Granta 17 (1985): 177-85.

—-. A Pale View of the Hills. 1982. London: Faber & Faber, 1991.

—-. The Remains of the Day. 1989. New York: Vintage, 1993.

—-. "A Strange and Sometimes Sadness." 1980. Early Japanese Stories. Illustrate. Eileen Hogan. London: Belmont, 2000. 15-32.

—-. "Summer after the War." Granta 7 (1983): 119-37.

—-. The Unconsoled. 1995. London: Faber and Faber, 1996.

—-. When We Were Orphans. London: Faber and Faber, 2000.

Iyer, Pico. "The Empire Writes Back" Time 8 February 1993: 46-51.

Kauffmann, Stanley. "The Floating World." The New Republic 6 November 1995: 43.

Kenzaburo, Oe. "The Novelists in Today's World: A Conversation." Boundary 2: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Literature and Culture 18.3 (1991): 109-22.

King, Bruce. "The New Internationalism: Shiva Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Buchi Emecheta, Timothy Mo and Kazuo Ishiguro." The British and Irish Novel Since 1960. Ed. James Acheson. New York: St. Martin's, 1991.192-211.

Krider, Dylan Otto. "Rooted in a Small Space: An Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro." Kenyon Review. 20.2 (1998): 146-54.

Ma, Sheng-mei. Immigrant Subjectivities in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Literatures. Albany, N.Y.: State U of New York P, 1998.

—-. "Kazuo Ishiguro's Persistent Dream for Postethnicity: Performance in Whiteface." Post-Identity 2.1 (1999): 71-88.

Mallett, Peter J. "The Revelation of Characters in Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day and An Artist of the Floating World." Shoin Literary Review 29 (1996): 1-20.

Mason, Gregory. "Inspiring Images: The Influence of the Japanese Cinema on the Writings of Kazuo Ishiguro." East-West Film Journal 3.2 (1989): 39-52.

—-. "An Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro." Contemporary Literature 30.3 (1989): 335-47.

O'Brien, Susie. "Serving a New World Order: Postcolonial Politics in Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day." Modern Fiction Studies 42.4 (1996): 787-806.

Onishi, Normitsu. "Different Strokes for Different Folks." International Herald Tribune March 17, 2004. 18 June 2004:1-2. <>.

Page, Norman. "Speech, Culture and History in the Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro." Asian Voices in English. Eds. Mimi Chang and Roy Harris. Hong Kong: Hong Kong UP, 1991. 161-68.

Parini, Jay, et al., ed. World Writers in English, 2 vols. New York: Scriber, 2003.

Parkes, Adam. Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remain of the Day: A Reader's Guide. New York: Continuum, 2001.

Purton, Valerie. "The Reader in a Floating world: The Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro." The Literature of Place. Eds. Norman Page and Peter Preston. London: Macmillan, 1993. 170-79.

Richards, Linda. "January Interview: Kazuo Ishiguro." June Magazine October 2000. 18 June 2004: 1-22. <>.

Rothfork, John. "Zen Comedy in Postcolonial Literature: Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day." Mosaic 29.1 (1996): 79-102.

Shaffer, Brian W. "An Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro." Contemporary Literature 42.1 (2001): 1-14.

Shaikh, Nermeen. "AsiaSource Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro." 2000. Asia Source 9 April 2003: 1-6. <>.

Tamaya, Meera. "Ishiguro's Remains of the Day: The Empire Strikes Back." Modern Language Studies 22.2 (1992): 45-56.

"The First Phase of Colonialism." 12 May 2003: 1-2. <>.

"Timeline of Japanese History." 12 May 2003: 1-3. <>.

Vorda, Allan. "Stuck on the Margins: An Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro." Face to Face: Interviews with Contemporary Novelists. Eds. Allan Vorda and Daniel Stern. Houston: Rice UP, 1993. 1-36.

Walkowitz, Rebecca L. "Ishiguro's Floating Worlds." ELH 68.4 (2001): 1049-76.

Wong, Cynthia F. Kazuo Ishiguro. Plymouth, England: Northcote; British Council, 2000.

—-. "Like Idealism Is to the Intellect: An Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro." Clio 30.3 (2001): 309-25.