* As a man is, so he writes, and Ishiguro’s sentences have nothing to prove. In the hands of some of his contemporaries — Martin Amis, say, or Salman Rushdie — the novel can sometimes feel like a vehicle for talent; high-burnish prose comes at the reader in a blaze of virtuosity, but the aesthetic whole isn’t always equal to the sum of its parts. Ishiguro, a practitioner of self-effacing craft, takes a contrary approach. At first glance, his books can appear ordinary. “It seems increasingly likely that I really will undertake the expedition that has been preoccupying my imagination now for some days” is the far from dazzling first sentence of “The Remains of the Day.” The real action happens between the lines, or behind them, as when Stevens justifies his taste for sentimental romance novels on the grounds that they provide “an extremely efficient way to maintain and develop one’s command of the English language.” That they might also provide a dose of wish-fulfillment to a disconsolate, middle-aged bachelor is something we are left to infer for ourselves. It is not for nothing that Ishiguro has named Charlotte Brontë as the novelist who has influenced him most. From “Jane Eyre,” he learned how to write first-person narrators who hide their feelings from themselves but are transparent to other people.
* His family believed it was important to respect local ways, however odd they might appear.