The “Remains of the Day” novelist Kazuo Ishiguro is half a world away in his new one. Shanghai between the world wars is his new territory, but the emotional terrain feels familiar: it’s the realm of a meticulous but suspiciously cracked memory, yet another Ishiguro exercise in just how unreliable a narrator can be-to the point of delusion and pathos. In “Remains of the Day” the perfectly oblivious butler, the Anthony Hopkins part in the movie, was unaware that the lord of his manor was a Nazi.
The hero of “When We Were Orphans” is an English detective in China, driven by a childish dream that the savagery of the modern world can be figured out, clue by clue, Sherlock Holmes style, and solved like an old-fashioned whodunnit. Nostalgia stumbles on modern evil in Ishiguro’s fiction. East meets West; narrative realism frames a murky dreamscape. The literary link between Dickens and the global culture, Kazuo Ishiguro, is this hour on The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
Kazuo Ishiguro, Booker-prize-winning author of “Remains of the Day”