My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture by Kazuo Ishiguro

My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture

Delivered in Stockholm on 7 December 2017, My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs is the lecture of the Nobel Laureate in Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro. A generous and hugely insightful biographical sketch, it explores his relationship with Japan, reflections on his own novels and an insight into some of his inspirations, from the worlds of writing, music...

Title:My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture
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My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture Reviews

  • John

    MY FAVOURITE PART IN THE LECTURE

    "But let me finish by making an appeal – if you like, my Nobel appeal! It's hard to put the whole world to rights, but let us at least think about how we can prepare our own small corner of it, this corner of 'literature', where we read, write, publish, recommend, denounce and give awards to books. If we are to play an important role in this uncertain future, if we are to get the best from the writers of today and tomorrow, I believe we must become more diverse.

    MY FAVOURITE PART IN THE LECTURE

    "But let me finish by making an appeal – if you like, my Nobel appeal! It's hard to put the whole world to rights, but let us at least think about how we can prepare our own small corner of it, this corner of 'literature', where we read, write, publish, recommend, denounce and give awards to books. If we are to play an important role in this uncertain future, if we are to get the best from the writers of today and tomorrow, I believe we must become more diverse. I mean this in two particular senses.

    Firstly, we must widen our common literary world to include many more voices from beyond our comfort zones of the elite first world cultures. We must search more energetically to discover the gems from what remain today unknown literary cultures, whether the writers live in far away countries or within our own communities. Second: we must take great care not to set too narrowly or conservatively our definitions of what constitutes good literature. The next generation will come with all sorts of new, sometimes bewildering ways to tell important and wonderful stories. We must keep our minds open to them, especially regarding genre and form, so that we can nurture and celebrate the best of them. In a time of dangerously increasing division, we must listen. Good writing and good reading will break down barriers. We may even find a new idea, a great humane vision, around which to rally."

  • Aňa

    An insightful lecture from a great voice of the scene, a truly 'international' literary voice (in the sense used by him in the lecture - his writing transcends any closed cultural context). The speech feels just like Mr Ishiguro's photos after the prize was announced - very intelligent and at the same time very humble. Makes some interesting points on how 'quiet, private sparks of revelation' come to a writer (or any person, for that matter). Definitely worth a read.

  • Ammar

    In this lecture that was delivered on December 7th, 2017. Kazuo Ishiguro delivers a personal lecture about literature, his beginning as a novelist, the creative writing class he took in East Anglia, and how it made him the writer he is today.

    He describes the England that he moved to with his parents when he was 5 years old. How very different it is from today. And how the community accepted them even though he was the only Japanese in his school and probably the first Japanese encountered in hi

    In this lecture that was delivered on December 7th, 2017. Kazuo Ishiguro delivers a personal lecture about literature, his beginning as a novelist, the creative writing class he took in East Anglia, and how it made him the writer he is today.

    He describes the England that he moved to with his parents when he was 5 years old. How very different it is from today. And how the community accepted them even though he was the only Japanese in his school and probably the first Japanese encountered in his town.

    He talks about writing about his roots and heritage before that became popular and common in English lit, and how it helped him to immortalize his own vision of Japan into the written record even in a fictional form.

    Kazuo also talks about the effect of music on writing and how listening to some songs or the voice of singers helps him achieve an effect or fill a void in a piece he is writing.

    He encourages the Nobel committee to be inclusive of all kind of literature and to keep this form alive .

    This is an amazing short book. A lecture that is tremendously personal, yet universal.

  • Jason Wilson

    Ishiguro’s Nobel lecture . Great to see it won by someone readable . Pleasant talk from a varied journey since early childhood in Nagasaki .

  • Freddy

    “Stories can entertain, sometimes teach, or argue a point, but for me, the essential thing is that they communicate feelings— that they appeal to what we share as human beings across our borders and divides. . . . In the end, stories are about one person saying to another, ‘This is the way it feels to me. Can you understand what I’m saying? Does it also feel this way to you?’”

  • Akylina

    "If we are to play an important role in this uncertain future, if we are to get the best from the writers of today and tomorrow, I believe we must become more diverse. I mean this in two particular senses. Firstly, we must widen our common literary world to include many more voices from beyond our comfort zones of the elite first world cultures. [...] Second: we must take great care not to set too narrowly or conservatively our definitions of what constitutes good literature. [...] Good writing

    "If we are to play an important role in this uncertain future, if we are to get the best from the writers of today and tomorrow, I believe we must become more diverse. I mean this in two particular senses. Firstly, we must widen our common literary world to include many more voices from beyond our comfort zones of the elite first world cultures. [...] Second: we must take great care not to set too narrowly or conservatively our definitions of what constitutes good literature. [...] Good writing and good reading will break down barriers. We may even find a new idea, a great humane vision, around which to rally."

    Words are needless. Ishiguro said everything.

  • tomwrote

    I was given this as a thoughtful gift and appropriately it is a thoughtful lecture from an intelligent and humane writer. There are insights into Ishiguro's writing life but also a look at the larger purpose of literature in society.

  • Annikky

    4.5 Beautiful and insightful, very much recommended. A side note: I have only read one of Ishiguro's books - The Remains of the Day - and was surprised how similar the voice here was to that novel (where it's more extreme, of course).

  • Zulekha Saqib
  • Michael

    Edifying and beautifully told autobiographical reflections. And an urgent call to action to the next generation of authors, grounded in the author's own growth as a writer.

    That growth, we learn, came through a set of epiphanies - inspired by the work of other artists. Which in turn gives this lecture a positive, uplifting forward momentum. Because life is about intersects: it is the relationship between things; and the relationships between people that matter. Insight we can all build on.

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