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Man Booker at Birkbeck 2012: Kazuo Ishiguro

On Wednesday 7 November, prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro visited Birkbeck to discuss his most recent novel, Never Let Me Go. The event was the second time that Birkbeck has welcomed a highly acclaimed author as part of the Booker Prize Foundation's Universities Initiative, following a visit from novelist Sarah Waters last year. The Universities Initiative aims to bring high-quality contemporary literature to students from across the disciplines.

Over 1000 Birkbeck students and alumni came to listen to Ishiguro, who discussed not only the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel, Never Let Me Go (2005), but also earlier works, including The Remains of the Day, which won the Booker Prize in 1989, with Birkbeck's Professor of Creative Writing and former Booker Prize judge, Russell Celyn Jones.

The discussion ranged widely over topics such as how Ishiguro chooses his narrators and the way that their voices develop; attempts in his early writing to capture the Japan of his childhood; and how the relationships between characters are more important in his writing than individual characters in isolation.

Ishiguro then took questions from an enthusiastic audience who asked about his writing processes as well as some of the science behind Never Let Me Go.

Professor Hilary Fraser, Executive Dean of the School of Arts, said: “We are delighted to welcome Kazuo Ishiguro to Birkbeck. Just as the Man Booker Prize opens up the finest contemporary literature to the widest possible audience, so Birkbeck is an elite research university whose mission is to give a broad and diverse spectrum of students the best higher education, and we are pleased to have this opportunity to work together as partners to co-sponsor the Man Booker at Birkbeck. It is wonderful for our students and alumni to have the chance to hear first-hand from distinguished authors such as Ishiguro.”

Read what our students said about the event on the Birkbeck events blog.