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

Annalisa Bardelli


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.


Kazuo Ishiguro; Japan; Translation; English language; East

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