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

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...

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Title:My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture
Author:Kazuo Ishiguro
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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."

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Andreea Marin

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not read any of Kazuo Ishiguro’s fiction (yet) because I wasn’t sure what is the essence of his writing, and what I should expect; at first I mistakenly believed he wrote only romance novels. I needed to hear Kazuo Ishiguro first. I took this morning to listen and read along in this book My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture and my goals of the year just changed to: I must read as much Kazuo Ishiguro as I possibly can.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not read any of Kazuo Ishiguro’s fiction (yet) because I wasn’t sure what is the essence of his writing, and what I should expect; at first I mistakenly believed he wrote only romance novels. I needed to hear Kazuo Ishiguro first. I took this morning to listen and read along in this book My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture and my goals of the year just changed to: I must read as much Kazuo Ishiguro as I possibly can. This man is so poised, intelligent, and well-spoken. What I love about his Nobel Lecture is that he introduces himself, gives an overview of his life, and details about how he wrote each one of his novels: what inspired him to write each one of them, what changes happened in his life, what revelations he had, and how he grew as an artist.

    It was so interesting to read and hear him describe the ways in which he was inspired by music, his roots and heritage, and how a single question from a reading made him change his writing away from the isolated individual reminiscing to the meaningful relationships between people. I also enjoyed the way he sprinkles many literary references particularly of writers who have inspired him like Forester and Proust.

    Near the end of the lecture Ishiguro looks forward, and respectfully acknowledges that we must allow “the younger generation to lead us” and that:

    “if we are to get the best of the writers of today and tomorrow we must be more diverse…beyond our comfort zones of elite first world countries.”

    If I had to highlight what stood out to me from this summarized life and writing overview, it would be the way Ishiguro emphasizes that inspiration can come from various formats not necessarily only books but also media like music, film, and lectures. He also notes that he wanted his works to be something that can exist only on the page, which is very intriguing.

    This book is very short, but packs in it the essence and craft of Ishiguro, and if like me you haven’t read any of his works but want an introduction to an exceptional individual then give this a try.

    linkable review:

  • Radwa

    Such an inspiring little read!

    I was so proud when I heard of Ishiguro's Nobel win, not just because he was the first Nobel winner I've actually read prior to his win, but because I was actually rooting for him, and this speech reminded me why!

    It's a biographical lecture about his beginnings as a writer, how music had a big impact on his writing (among other things), and the progress he's undergone as a writer. I loved hearing about "his" Japan, and his view on England and his double heritage. N

    Such an inspiring little read!

    I was so proud when I heard of Ishiguro's Nobel win, not just because he was the first Nobel winner I've actually read prior to his win, but because I was actually rooting for him, and this speech reminded me why!

    It's a biographical lecture about his beginnings as a writer, how music had a big impact on his writing (among other things), and the progress he's undergone as a writer. I loved hearing about "his" Japan, and his view on England and his double heritage. Now, I can't read more for him!

  • 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?’”

  • 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

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