Nobel Literature Prize awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro


2017: Kazuo Ishiguro

Japan-born British novelist, screenwriter and short story writer Kazuo Ishiguro won the 2017 award. His most renowned novel, "The Remains of the Day" (1989), was adapted into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins. His works deal with memory, time and self-delusion.


2016: Bob Dylan

An atypical but world famous laureate: US songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. The Swedish Academy selected him "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."


2015: Svetlana Alexievich

Calling her work "a monument to suffering and courage in our time," the Swedish Academy honored the Belarusian author and investigative journalist in 2015 — making her only the 14th woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901. Alexievich is best known for her emotive firsthand accounts of war and suffering, including "War's Unwomanly Face" (1985) and "Voices from Chernobyl" (2005).


2014: Patrick Modiano

The French writer's stories describe a universe of haunted cities, absentee parents, criminality and lost youths. They are all set in Paris with the shadow of the Second World War looming heavily in the background. The Swedish Academy described the novelist, whose work has often focused on the Nazi occupation of France, as "a Marcel Proust of our time."


2013: Alice Munro

Canadian writer Alice Munro is no stranger to accolades, having received the Man Booker International Prize and the Canadian Governor General Literary Award three times over. The Swedish Academy, which awards the annual Nobel Prize in Literature, called her a "master of the contemporary short story."


2012: Mo Yan

Guan Moye, better known under his pen name Mo Yan, was praised by the Swedish Academy as a writer "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary." The decision was criticized by Chinese dissidents like artist Ai Weiwei, who claimed Yan was too close to the Chinese Communist Party and did not support fellow intellectuals who faced political repression.


2011: Tomas Transtromer

The Academy chose Tomas Gosta Transtromer as the winner in 2011 "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality." In the 1960s, the Swedish poet worked as a psychologist at a center for juvenile offenders. His poetry has been translated into over 60 languages.


2010: Mario Vargas Llosa

The Peruvian novelist received the Nobel Prize "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." In Latin America, he is famous for uttering the phrase "Mexico is the perfect dictatorship" on TV in 1990 and for punching his once-friend and fellow Nobel laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in the face in 1976.


2009: Herta Müller

The German-Romanian author was awarded the Nobel Prize as a writer "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed." She is noted for her work criticizing the repressive communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, which she experienced herself. Müller writes in German and moved to West Berlin in 1987.


2008: Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio

The Swedish Academy called J.M.G. Le Clezio an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization." Le Clezio was born in Nice, France, in 1940 to a French mother and a Mauritian father. He holds dual citizenship and calls Mauritius his "little fatherland."


2007: Doris Lessing

British author Doris May Lessing has written novels, plays and short stories, to name just a few of her mediums. The 93-year-old received the Nobel Prize for being a writer "who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny." She campaigned against nuclear weapons and the Apartheid regime in South Africa.


2006: Orhan Pamuk

Ferit Orhan Pamuk, "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures," was the first Turkish author to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. With more than 11 million books sold, he is Turkey's bestselling writer. Pamuk was born in Istanbul and currently teaches at Columbia University in New York City.


2005: Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter, "who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms," was awarded the Nobel Prize three years before his death from liver cancer. He died on Christmas Eve in 2008. The British playwright directed and acted in many radio and film productions of his own work. In total, he received more than 50 awards.


2004: Elfriede Jelinek

The Nobel Prize was awarded to Elfriede Jelinek "for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels" and for her plays that reveal society's clichés. A central theme in Jelinek's work is female sexuality. Her novel "The Piano Teacher" was the basis for the 2001 movie of the same name featuring Isabelle Huppert in the lead role.


2003: John Maxwell Coetzee

J. M. Coetzee, "who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider," was also awarded the Booker Prize twice before obtaining the Nobel Prize. The Cape Town-born author became an Australian citizen in 2006. One of his best-known novels, "Disgrace" (1999), is set in post-apartheid South Africa.


2002: Imre Kertesz

The Jewish Hungarian Auschwitz survivor became Nobel laureate "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history." Kertesz, who died in March 2016, described the atrocities of concentration camps in his books. He worked over 13 years on his semi-autobiographical novel "Fatelessness," which was first published in 1975.


2001: Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul

V.S. Naipaul received the Nobel Prize in 2001 for his strong storytelling and "for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories." Born in Trinidad and Tobago, the British writer has often explored the freedom of the individual in a declining society in his novels.


2000: Gao Xingjian

The first Nobel Prize laureate of the new millennium was a Chinese author, playwright and painter based in Paris since 1987. Gao Xingjian was selected for his "oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama."

The Swedish Academy has honored British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro with the prestigious literary award. Ishiguro's best-known works include "The Remains of the Day" and "Never Let Me Go."

Kazuo Ishiguro was revealed as the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday at a ceremony in Stockholm. In its announcement, the Swedish Academy praised the Japanese-born British writer as someone, "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world." 

After announcing Ishiguo as the 2017 literature laureate, the Academy's Permanent Secretary Sara Danius described the writer as a "brilliant novelist" and a "deeply original author who has developed his own novel aesthetics." 

Read more:  Kazuo Ishiguro tells DW why he used dragons and pixies to explore history

Upon learning that he had become the prestigious literary award's 110th winner, Ishiguro told the BBC that it was "flabbergastingly flattering."

"It's a magnificent honor," the prize-winner said, "mainly because it means that I'm in the footsteps of the greatest authors that have lived, so that's a terrific commendation." Nobel Literature laureates are considered to be the world's most influential authors.

"I'll be deeply moved if I could in some way be part of some sort of climate this year in contributing to some sort of positive atmosphere at a very uncertain time," Ishiguro added. 

His publisher Faber & Faber also celebrated the win on Twitter.

A genre-blending author 

Ishiguro is one of the most highly regarded authors in the English-speaking literary world. He is the author of eight novels and numerous scripts for film and television, as well as song lyrics. He is known for works that deal with memory, time and self-delusion, the Academy said. The 62-year-old's most famous novel, "The Remains of the Day" (1989) was made into a movie featuring Anthony Hopkins. In "Never Let Me Go" (2005), Ishiguro ventured into a dystopian world set in the past but containing futuristic elements. 

His most recent novel, "The Buried Giant" (2015), mixes fantasy and history. It is set in Britain during the age of King Author and features multiple characters providing perspective on the action that unfolds in the tale. 

In a 2015 interview with DW , Ishiguro said he doesn't concern himself with packaging his work into a specific genre. "When I try to write a book I'm never really thinking very conscientiously about genres," he said. "How I write is that I start with an idea that I very much want to express. 

Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki on November 8, 1954 and moved to England at the age of five, where he eventually earned a Masters in creative writing after a stint in music. He became a British citizen in 1982. 

Though Ishiguro set his first two novels, "A Pale View of the Hills" (1982) and "An Artist of the Floating World" (1986) in post-WWII Japan, he has said that Japanese literature has not had a major impact on his writing. However, he believes that his growing up in Surrey in a Japanese-speaking family heightened his self-awareness and shaped his career trajectory. "If I’d grown up in Japan, I doubt I would ever have become a writer," he told the Japanese Times in a 2001 interview. 

Prior to winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, Ishiguro had been honored with four Man Booker Prize nominations, taking one home in 1989 for "The Remains of the Day." 

Ishiguro was selected from a total of 195 proposed candidates, who the Academy then narrowed down to a short list of five. Other rumored top contenders  included Ngugi wa Thiong'o of Kenya, Haruki Murakami of Japan, Margaret Atwood of Canada, Israeli author Amos Oz, and the Syrian-born poet Adonis, though the shortlist is kept secret for 50 years after the award's announcement.

Bob Dylan US-amerikanischer Musiker und Lyriker

A step away from last year's controversy

The Academy's 2017 selection marks a return to a more conventional awardee. Last year, the Academy controversially awarded the Nobel Literature Prize to American musician and songwriter Bob Dylan. Many criticized the decision, arguing that song lyrics did not constitute literature.

Read more: Opinion: Bob Dylan, the first rapper

In 2015, the award went to Belarusian non-fiction author Svetlana Alexievich.

The laureate takes home a prize of nine million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million, €937,000) and will be publicly honored at an official award ceremony this December 10 in Stockholm.

The literature prize, part of a series of Nobel awards, was funded by the Swedish philanthropist and inventor of dynamite, Alfred Nobel. According to his 1895 will, the literature prize should go to "the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction."

The first Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded in 1901. Since then, the honor has been bestowed 109 times to 113 laureates; the prize has been split between two recipients on four occasions.

The 2017 Nobel Prizes in chemistry, medicine and physics were announced earlier this week. The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the recipient of the prize for economics, established not be Nobel himself but in memory of him, will be made known next week.

cmb/eg (AP, AFP, dpa)