What makes a Author Asian

Nobel Prize Winner Kazuo Ishiguro

Nobel Prize Winner Kazuo Ishiguro

Late last night (at least in Asia) the Anglo-japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro is 2017's recipient of the Nobel Prize of Outstanding Contribution to World Literature.

As someone whose both British and lives in Asia and undertaking a project based on South East  Asian story The Ramayana. it's been a interesting to see and read articles reflecting on how to refer to Mr Ishiguro background.

He is unquestionable of Japanese extraction having emigrated from with his parents and settled in the UK since he was 5. But as himself acknowledges speaks no Japanese and writes (with occasional expectation of the exceptional novel An Artist of the Floating World (1986)) about the English.

Looking at myself for the moment I wonder what people will feel of having a British artist creating an interoperation of the quintessentially asian story Ramayana. As my project draws to a close in a few months (at least the second stage) I try to remember that Ramayana: The Thread of Luminance is among a multitude of interpretations in the world and whilst some governments have used the story to define and determine the Ramayana as apart of their national identity the variety of interpretations prior (and into the future) makes this impossible to control (like all artworks)

I have tried to be respectful to the core of the story but the intention is a deliberate commentary on a particular country at a particular time (more on that in another blog post). I had to remind myself this many times as I pick another book on the epic (I recently completed MANY Ramayana edited by Paula Richman) and hope not to read another equally validate motivation or criticism of a character that could impact on MY interpretation.

Whilst I do not consider myself Asian (I do not speak an Asian language) I have lived and inspired by the culture of South East Asia over the last decade and a half I do conclude that my distance and difference has allowed myself in bring ing a fresh and interesting interpretation of the defining aspect of asian identity. Bringing this back to the Nobel winner Kazuo Ishiguro whom demonstrates that he uses his talent and distance from his home in South West England to unpack what it means to be English. His immersion unquestionable has been more thorough than what I wish to undertake and deserving of his prize.