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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Edition Language:English

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.

  • Patty

    I had picked up a little hardcover, just like this one, of the Lecture by last years Nobel Prize in Literature, Bob Dylan. When I saw this one for the winner of the Prize for 2017 I knew I had to read it. Kazuo Ishiguro wrote eight books of fiction and I have only read three but know that his writing is special.

    The Swedish Academy gave this as their reasoning for giving the prize to Ishiguro: "...who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of conn

    I had picked up a little hardcover, just like this one, of the Lecture by last years Nobel Prize in Literature, Bob Dylan. When I saw this one for the winner of the Prize for 2017 I knew I had to read it. Kazuo Ishiguro wrote eight books of fiction and I have only read three but know that his writing is special.

    The Swedish Academy gave this as their reasoning for giving the prize to Ishiguro: "...who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world." In his Lecture he is able to describe a sort of journey of breakthroughs that he found worked for him in uniting the world through his stories. He suggests more diverse "literature". "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 remains today unknown literary cultures, whether the writers live in faraway 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...."

    Ishiguro also writes screenplays and song lyrics! He mentions in his lecture that on occasions he learned crucial lessons from the voices of singers. He said, "I refer here less to the lyrics being sung, and more to the actual singing. As we know, a human voice in song is capable of expressing an unfathomably complex blend of feeling." He mentions fellow Nobel recipient, Bob Dylan, as well as Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Bruce Springssteen and several others.

    This little peek inside an author's soul only makes reading his work that much more enjoyable. I look forward to following Ishiguro in all his endeavors.

  • 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!

  • Pantelis

    A reliable narrator, after all...

  • Kate

    3.5/5

    This is Kazuo Ishiguro’s acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize in literature. It discusses his growth as a writer, inspiration for his work, thoughts on the world’s current condition, and hopes for the future.

  • Sam Quixote

    My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs is Kazuo Ishiguro’s speech from when he was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature. It takes the form of a truncated career retrospective/autobiography, touching upon the creation of his more well-known books like The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.

    The lecture, in the author’s usual style, is eloquent and understated but not especially powerful, moving or thought-provoking either. And, as I was reading this, I began to wonde

    My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs is Kazuo Ishiguro’s speech from when he was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature. It takes the form of a truncated career retrospective/autobiography, touching upon the creation of his more well-known books like The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.

    The lecture, in the author’s usual style, is eloquent and understated but not especially powerful, moving or thought-provoking either. And, as I was reading this, I began to wonder: did Kazuo Ishiguro really deserve the Nobel Prize? I mean, he’s a decent writer and I enjoyed The Remains of the Day (the only other book by Ishiguro I’ve read is An Artist of the Floating World which I didn’t like nearly as much) but have his contributions to literature warranted the Nobel? I don’t think he’s pioneered any innovative techniques or ideas, nor are his books especially pivotal or influential literary landmarks.

    He also basically admits towards the end that he’s no longer relevant these days – hence the title’s focus on “Twentieth Century” – which I feel is true, going by his latest novel, The Buried Giant, a vague and unimpressive book that I tried and failed to get through (SO boring!). That said, the Nobel Prize for Literature has effectively been a lifetime achievement award - as opposed to being given to the writer who contributed the most to their field in the past year - for decades now anyway. Still, I’m not convinced he was ever that relevant a writer!

    My Twentieth Century Evening is a well-crafted and readable though underwhelming and forgettable speech. Kazuo Ishiguro continues to be a skilful stylist with at least one great book to his name. At any rate, congrats, Kazuo!

  • Bookdragon Sean

    Ishiguro has written some great novels, though I really don’t think he deserved to win the Noble Prize for Literature last year.

    There are so many other writers who have, objectively speaking, contributed more to the arts. Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami and even Neil Gaiman stand out as immediate examples to my mind. They have just done so much more for literature in general with their creativity and innovative writing styles.

    I don’t mean to undermine the power of Ishiguro’s wr

    Ishiguro has written some great novels, though I really don’t think he deserved to win the Noble Prize for Literature last year.

    There are so many other writers who have, objectively speaking, contributed more to the arts. Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami and even Neil Gaiman stand out as immediate examples to my mind. They have just done so much more for literature in general with their creativity and innovative writing styles.

    I don’t mean to undermine the power of Ishiguro’s writing.

    and

    are both fantastic books but there are more accomplished writers out there today; there are writers who have written more and demonstrated a wider range of skills. Look at all the different things Gaiman has done: comic books, fantasy novels, children’s lit and epics about godhood, his imagination and skill set is far wider.

    The speech Ishiguro gave here is not very engaging or inspiring. He talks about his own experiences as a writer and what led him to the craft and, surprisingly, it’s not that interesting to read about. I appreciated his stance on global literature, on looking beyond standard western writers, though this was only mentioned briefly at the end. All in all, it’s mundane and unremarkable.

    Only recommended to those that thought he deserved the noble.

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