Artist of the Floating World

Ishiguro, Kazuo. An Artist of the Floating World. New York: Vintage International, 1986.

This is story about a change in cultural attitudes. After World War II many things are different for artist Masuji Ono. At the very simplest, his grandson idolizes the Lone Ranger and Godzilla instead of ancient emperors. At the most complicated, Masuji’s art is not received as it once was. His war efforts are not as admirable and are now making it difficult for his youngest daughter, nearly a spinster at twenty-six, to get married. Ono does what he can to eliminate “bad interviews” when the detectives investigate the family. But, as one former acquaintance remarks, “I realize there are not those who would condemn the likes of you and me for the very things we were once proud to have achieved” (p 94). Ono’s past is a heavy threat to the happiness of his daughter’s future. Throughout the story there is the theme of bondage. The conversations are retrained. The delicate relationships are bound by decorum.

As an aside: is it customary in the Japanese culture for people to repeat themselves so often? Complete sentences are uttered time and time again.

Reason read: On the second Monday in January there is a Japanese holiday to honor the tradition of coming of age. Since An Artist of the Floating World takes place in Japan….

Author fact: Ishiguro is better known for his book Remains of the Day which is also on my list to read.

Book trivia: An Artist of the Floating World won the Whitbread book of the Year Award in 1986.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Japanese Journeys” (p 116). Simple enough.



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