The pale horizon of the border: “Japanese” novels by Kazuo Ishiguro

  • Annalisa Bardelli università di Siena
Keywords: Kazuo Ishiguro, Japan, Translation, English language, East


Although Kazuo Ishiguro is considered one of the most representative novelists of contemporary literature in English, he was born in Japan and moved to England as a child. However, Japanese settings belong to the early years of his career as a writer. The Japanese images portrayed in the novels and short stories set in his homeland are inspired by his childhood memories, scenes watched in Japanese films and stereotypes known to Western readers, used in order to capture their attention.

In his novels, Ishiguro reduces the distance between East and West with the particular use of the English language, described by the writer as a “pseudotranslation” or a “translationese” language. Setting his first novels and short stories in Japan, the writer plays the role of a translator translating into English a Japanese novel that doesn’t exist. Ishiguro acts as a translator using English to explain Japanese culture to his Western readers.

In studying the Japanese and English critics of Ishiguro’s works, examples from his novels, as well as from the Japanese translations of his novels, it becomes unmistakably clear that this writer is capable of reducing the boundaries between the East, the West and their cultures.

Author Biography

Annalisa Bardelli, università di Siena

Annalisa Bardelli received her PhD degree in comparative literature and translation of the literary text at the University of Siena in June 2010. Her thesis compared Salman Rushdie, Timothy Mo, Kazuo Ishiguro, Romesh Gunesekera, and Monica Ali. Although all these authors were born in different Asian countries and have set some of their novels in their homelands, they write in English and belong to contemporary English literature. Bardelli’s studies focus on the transculturality of this group of authors, on how they build a bridge between English and Asian cultures, and on how their use of the English language is deeply influenced by their Oriental origins and languages. Since 2009, Bardelli has been working for Gp Publishing (Modena, Italy) as a translator, translating from Japanese.


Ishiguro, Kazuo, “A Strange and Sometimes Sadness”, Bananas, June 1980: 13-32; Introduction 7: Stories by New Writers, Ed. Ishiguro K., London, Faber & Faber, 1981: 13-27; anche in Ishiguro, Kazuo, Early Japanese Stories, London, Belmont Press, 2000: 13-32.

Id., “A Family Supper”, Firebird 2: Writing Today, Ed. Binding T. J., Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1983: 121-131; The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories, Ed. Bradury M., Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1987: 434-442; Esquire, March 1990: 207-211; anche in Ishiguro, Kazuo, Early Japanese Stories, London, Belmont Press, 2000: 33-45.

Id., “The Summer after the War”, Granta 7, Harmondsworth, Granta/Penguin, 1983: 120-137; anche in Ishiguro, Kazuo, Early Japanese Stories, London, Belmont Press, 2000: 46-70.

Id., A Pale View of Hills (1982), New York, Vintage International, 1990.

Id., A Pale View of Hills (1982), trad. giapp. di T. Onodera Onnatachi no Tooi Natsu, Tokyo, Tsukumashobo, 1984.

Id., An Artist of the Floating World (1986), New York, Vintage International, 1990.

Id., An Artist of the Floating World (1986), trad. giapp. di S. Tobita Ukiyo no Gaka, Japan, Chuokoron-Sha, 1992.

Id., The Remains of the Day, London, Faber & Faber, 1989.

Id., Early Japanese Stories, London, Belmont Press, 2000.

Kinoshita, Takeshi, “Kazuo Ishiguro ni Okeru Sensousekinin”, Suiseitsushin, 26 (settembre-ottobre 2008): 124-133.

Mason, Gregory, “Inspiring Images: the Influence of the Japanese Cinema on the Writings of Kazuo Ishiguro”, East West Film Journal, Honolulu, 3:2 (June 1989): 39-51.

Id., “An Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro”, Contemporary Literature, 30:3 (Autumn 1989): 335-347.

Said, Eduard W., Orientalism (1978), trad. it. di S. Galli, Orientalismo, , Torino, Bollati Boringhieri, 1991.

Vorda, Allan – Herzinger, Kim, “Stuck on the Margins: an Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro”, Face to Face: Interviews with Contemporary Novelists, Ed. Allan Vorda, Houston, Rice University Press, 1993: 1-35.

How to Cite
Bardelli, A. (2011). The pale horizon of the border: “Japanese” novels by Kazuo Ishiguro. Between, 1(2).