The Remains of the Papers
Ransom Center adds Kazuo Ishiguro archive to its holdings
By Robert Faires,
10:40AM, Tue. Aug. 25, 2015
The Harry Ransom Center's already substantial holdings of British authors just took another leap forward with the acquisition of the archive of Booker Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.
Best known for The Remains of the Day, the 1989 work which earned him that treasured UK literary award, Ishiguro has been a notable figure on the British fiction scene since his debut in 1982 with A Pale View of Hills, which won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. That novel, like his Whitbread Book of the Year-winning An Artist of the Floating World, dealt with Japan, the country of his birth, which he left at age 5 and didn't see again until some three decades later. But as with The Remains of the Day; his 2000 novel When We Were Orphans; and his just-published The Buried Giant, Ishiguro has also drawn considerable inspiration from his adopted homeland of England. Though hardly prolific – he's penned just seven novels over the past 33 years – Ishiguro has earned the kind of accolades that make clear his significance in the field of letters. The Times included him among the "50 greatest British writers since 1945," and TIME magazine named his 2005 science-fiction work Never Let Me Go not only the best novel of that year but also included it in the magazine's list of "100 Best English-language Novels From 1923 to 2005."
In addition to the copious drafts and notes for his novels and short stories, the materials coming to the Ransom will include the author's first serious stab at fiction, a pulp Western (!); two early unpublished novels; his one attempt at keeping a diary; his screenplays for Guy Maddin's The Saddest Music in the World and the Merchant-Ivory film The White Countess; two original teleplays for Channel 4 Television, A Profile of Arthur J. Mason and The Gourmet; and his songwriting collaborations with jazz singer Stacey Kent.
All these papers won't arrive just packed into whatever boxes Ishiguro stuffed them in over the years, however. The author has been keenly anticipating the day when his work would be archived and has diligently saved all kinds of papers – from scribbled notes to revised paragraphs to full drafts of chapters – which he collected – "more or less indiscriminately," he says – in a cardboard box under his desk, a system he started because, he states, "I was nervous I’d throw out work I’d need later.” In preparing this material for transport and storage to Austin, though, he spent months organizing it all, even going so far as to add notes explaining the notes and a document titled "How I Write" that provides background and perspective on his process.
For more information, visit the Ransom Center website.