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An Artist of the Floating World Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Length: 239 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Amazon Review

In An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro offers readers of the English language an authentic look at post-war Japan, "a floating world" of changing cultural behaviours, shifting societal patterns and troubling questions. Ishiguro, who was born in Nagasaki in 1954 but moved to England in 1960, writes the story of Masuji Ono, a bohemian artist and purveyor of the nightlife who became a propagandist for Japanese imperialism during the war. But the war is over. Japan lost, Ono's wife and son have been killed, and many young people blame the imperialists for leading the country to disaster. What's left for Ono? Ishiguro's treatment of this story earned a 1986 Whitbread Prize.

Review

"'In looking at the madness of the world and the world of madness [this book] forces us to consider the great question posed by all truly realistic fiction: what is reality and how can it be confronted?' New York Times Book Review" --Reviews

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 468 KB
  • Print Length: 239 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0143124285
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Fiction (8 Jan. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI91PS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #38,771 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Kazuo Ishiguro is the author of six novels, A Pale View of Hills (1982, Winifred Holtby Prize), An Artist of the Floating World (1986, Whitbread Book of the Year Award, Primio Scanno, shortlisted for the Booker Prize), The Remains of the Day (1989, winner of the Booker Prize), The Unconsoled (1995, winner of the Cheltenham Prize), When We Were Orphans (2000, shortlisted for the Booker Prize) and Never Let Me Go (2005, shortlisted for the MAN Booker Prize), and a book of stories, Nocturnes (2009). He received an OBE for Services to Literature in 1995, and the French decoration of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1998.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I bought 'An Artist Of The Floating World' after spotting the title amongst a list of the greatest books of all time and I wasn't disappointed. Ishiguro leads the reader through a floating world of fractured prose narrated by the main character, the acclaimed artist Ono. As he recounts the events surrounding his youngest daughter's marriage negiotations, with various disgressions along the way, he informs the reader of his own experiences as an aspiring artist and his part in the war.
What I really enjoyed about this book was the narrator's voice. I could almost imagine myself sitting in a secluded bar with Ono telling me his life story, it is such a personal tone that Ishiguro employs. The story unfolds slowly and the realisation that Ono is in some ways considered a traitor to the state is revealed through subtle prose.
There are several moments in the story where you realise that history is repeating itself, as Ono reflects on his actions as a youth the reader will notice a similarity in those of youths that Ono encouters during his retirement.
Overall I enjoyed the book but gave it four out of five because I found Ono's self-effacing tone a little tiresome towards the end. His humility was a little difficult to believe (and this was probably Ishiguro's intention, who's to say?) and I wasn't sure if I was reading an unreliable narrator or not.
It is a quietly beautiful meditation on the effects of Japan after the war and I highly recommend it.
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By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Jun. 2008
Format: Paperback
Written in Ishiguro's trademark style, this is an elegant, understated and subtle novel. Narrated in a somewhat rambling and not always reliable way by an elderly artist, this is the story of a society rebuilding itself after the horrors of war. The narrator, a former propagandist for Japan during World War II, must come to terms with his own sense of guilt and try to make sense of the sweeping changes brought in by a new generation.

Ishiguro captures the essence of Japan well, and does a good job of conveying the underlying values and social niceties of a society very different from the modern western one. The narrator is a well constructed character - realistic and far from perfect, and throughout the book the reader comes to sympathise with him to some degree. The other characters, particularly his disapproving daughters and lively grandson, are very believable and I enjoyed reading their interaction.

At times the meandering, rambling nature of the narration can get irritating, but apart from that this is a well constructed, fascinating novel.
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By A Customer on 25 Feb. 2001
Format: Paperback
It is a shame that this book, Ishiguro's second, is still less well read than "The Remains Of The Day." This one says more in a much tinier space, and is elegant, elliptical and intelligent beyond the call of duty.
In "An Artist Of The Floating World" (only when you read the book will you know the proper way to place emphasis on the title) Ishiguro tells the story of a Japanese man, Ono, who has something to hide, something to do with the war... To say more would be to give away the plot, and part of the pleasure of the book - as fans of "Remains" or "The Unconsoled" will know - is in seeing how much you can work out for yourself from how little Ishiguro tells you.
Incidentally, the book introduces Ishiguro's brilliant facility for children's speech, with Ono's grandson (going on to perfect this technique with Boris in "The Unconsoled") - quite the best representation I have read of the illogicality, intemperance and, well, childishness of the way children speak.
A flawless gem, a buoyant confection, and a seemingly effortless work of art.
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Format: Paperback
`An Artist of the Floating World' is basically the Japanese version of Ishiguro's Booker winning novel `The Remains of the Day'. As in The Remains of the Day the narrator is an unreliable witness with the shadow of pre-war culpability looming over his head. And as with The Remains of the Day the quiet individual has been drawn into the political events which transformed the world. Now retired, Masuki Ono passes his days in quiet seclusion, awaiting visits from his two daughters. He is a widower living alone, his wife and son having been killed during the war. But now it is 1948 and Japan is changing, collective guilt has seized the Japanese psyche, officials in the old regime are committing suicide and a new generation is emerging.

But as Ono works to finalise the marriage of his youngest daughter the issue of his pre-war allegiances arise and he is forced to come to terms with his responsibility for the militarist direction the 1930's took.

The question arises: what is the role of an artist in the wider political arena? Should the artist live solely for the reproduction of beauty, existing solely in a floating world divorced from society at large? Or should he become a conduit for change, a leader of public opinion? In the modern world where every rock star/artist/writer is expected to produce politically conscious work this is a valid and fascinating question.

An Artist of the Floating World produces a beautiful mirage, something like a Monet painting, with ideas and flawed characters flowing together in a silent, uneventful and almost heartbreaking novel. If you liked Remains of the Day then you will love this. It is absolutely fascinating to see the cultural comparisons between two such reserved societies on the verge of change.
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