Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro on his new book and feeling like his own avatar

Virgin Radio

6 Mar 2021, 13:26

The Nobel-winning author joined the Graham Norton Radio Show today to talk about his latest literary marvel Klara And The Sun, seeing his success in a parallel universe and a study in need of a spring clean. 

His new book explores the uncharted implications of AI to human relationships and love. Having won the Booker and Nobel Prize for Literature, how hard was it getting back into writing?

Sir Kazuo explained: “Klara And The Sun was about one third written when this new subject just came out of a clear blue sky, wham. I mean, there's no lead up to it. There's no short list or anything like that.

“I mean, you're having your breakfast at 10.30am with unwashed hair thinking about what you're going to do that day. By 11 o'clock you're a Nobel Prize winner and there are all these television crews outside your door - it really is weird.

"But I am yet to discover what that's going to do to my writing and probably not that much actually. When I won the Booker Prize when I was still only 34 years old that was a bit more like that. 

“It catapulted me into a different space but these days I'm 66 years old. I feel that the places where I get prizes and do acceptance speeches and all that stuff is fantastic but it's kind of like a parallel universe and the person that does that is just like a parallel person - like an avatar or something.

”My study is still as messy as it was before - it's small, cluttered, with papers all over the place and the problems I've got about how to write the next chapter are exactly the same.

"I kind of thought when I came back from Stockholm with the Nobel Prize someone would have made my study much grander but it was still there in this terrible state - unhoovered - and that's how it is inside my head as well. It happens out there but it's got very little to do with me.

"I have a very private, lonely sense of success and failure, and it often doesn't connect up with what's going on out in the big world. Having said that it's a tremendous honour to receive prizes like that."

How far into a book does he realise it's not going anywhere? He said: “I know fairly quickly if it's not working. Never Let Me Go I tried to write twice before I eventually did it successfully several years earlier. 

“I know it's not working because my imagination just won't unlock, I just can't occupy that world. It's usually because there's a big chunk of the jigsaw missing.

“I don't panic about that because this has happened to me so often I think I'll just put that to one side, do something else and then maybe this other piece of jigsaw will just present itself.

“People often ask me how do I get my ideas. Often it's three or four ideas that you mesh into each other and often if something's not working it's because one of these ideas is missing.”