Students and Ann Arbor residents packed the Apse Room in the University’s Museum of Art on Thursday, awaiting the entrance of British author Kazuo Ishiguro.
Ishiguro was invited to participate in a University reading as part of the Helen Zell Visiting Writers Series, which has hosted writers such as fiction writer Sergio Troncoso and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel.
Ishiguro read for 40 minutes from an excerpt of his most recent work, “The Buried Giant,” a fantasy-historical fiction novel set during the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, and fielded questions from the audience.
When asked to name authors and works that have been most influential to him, Ishiguro noted Charlotte Brontë and Marcel Proust. Brontë’s narration style in particular, Ishiguro said, has influenced his own writing to the point when he mimicked a scene from her novel, “Jane Eyre,” in one of his works.
“I do love (her) and I hadn’t realized how much she had influenced me in my writing,” Ishiguro said. “I read ‘Jane Eyre’ a few years ago and there are all these things I’ve ripped off from it. There’s a particular way her narrator appears to confide in the reader.”
Ann Arbor resident Karen Park said she attended the event after reading Ishiguro’s novel, “Remains of the Day,” and said, while she loved the setting, she wished there was more opportunity for questions from the audience rather than a lengthy reading of his novel.
“It was still great to have him be here and be able to talk to us,” Park said. “I had a hard time getting into (the chapter) as he was reading it. I heard that sometimes it’s not best, like when you do a book on tape, to have the actual author reading the book. Perhaps that’s the case in this case, that it’d be better read than spoken out loud by the author.”
Park said, however, she would still give the book a chance.
“I think I’ll borrow it from the library first,” she said.
LSA senior Jenny Zhang said she attended because of her love for Ishiguro’s books and her own desire to write in the future.
Unlike Park, Zhang said, while she hadn’t read the book, she was interested in reading more of it in the future.
“As he was reading it, I kind of started imagining it in my head,” Zhang said. “So it was pretty vivid and evocative in letting the audience or whoever was listening imagine these scenes unfolding in their heads.”