British writer Kazuo Ishiguro wins 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature

USA TODAY - LONDON — The Japanese-born British writer Kazuo Ishiguro won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday, the awarding Swedish Academy said. 

Ishiguro, 62, who is known for novels such as A Pale View of Hills (1982), The Remains of the Day (1989) and Never Let Me Go (2005), wins $1.1 million.

The Stockholm-based academy said his books show "great emotional force" and uncover "the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world." 

In Ishiguro's most recent work, The Buried Giant (2015), an elderly couple go on a
road trip through an archaic English landscape, hoping to reunite with their adult son, whom they have not seen for years. This novel movingly explores how memory relates to oblivion, history to the present — and fantasy to reality. 

Last year, in one of the most surprising decisions in the award's history, American singer and poet Bob Dylan was awarded the literary world's most prestigious accolade.

The Swedish Academy said Dylan won "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." However, the decision sparked lengthy discussion, including from Dylan himself, about whether song lyrics should be eligible.

"When I received the Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering how exactly my songs related to literature," he said in his Nobel acceptance lecture. Dylan, 76, also ruffled feathers for taking weeks to acknowledge the prize. 

Among the top contenders favored by bookmakers this year were: Japan's Haruki Murakami, 68, whose novels fuse the realistic and the fantastic, and Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o, 79, whose political work forced him to leave Africa for the United States.

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded 110 times to 114 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2017. In 2015, the Swedish Academy also made an adventurous choice in giving the award to Belarus' Svetlana Alexievich. Her journalism and non-fiction works explore topics related to the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Alfred Nobel's prescriptions for the Literature Prize were quite vague. He said it should go each year to "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction."

Just 14 women have won the prize. On four occasions, the award has been shared between two people. The youngest ever laureate was Rudyard Kipling, at 41; the oldest, Doris Lessing. She was 88 when she won the prize in 2007. 

Joachim Frank, Richard Henderson and Jacques Dubochet, three researchers based in the U.S., U.K. and Switzerland, respectively, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developments in electron microscopy. The medicine prize went to three Americans studying circadian rhythms: Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young. The physics prize went to Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne for detecting gravitational waves. The peace prize will be announced Friday.

 

The awarding of the peace prize comes amid debate about whether Aung San Suu Kyi — who won the prize in 1991 — should be stripped of the honor. The de facto leader of Myanmar has drawn international condemnation for her defense of her country's treatment of its Rohingya population, a minority Muslim group.

Rohingya have been fleeing Myanmar in the thousands for neighboring Bangladesh amid atrocities in Rakhine state. The United Nations has characterized Myanmar's treatment of Rohingya as a "textbook case of ethnic cleansing."

More: Nobel Prize honors technique for seeing molecules’ details

More: MIT, Caltech scientists share Nobel physics prize for gravity waves

More: Americans win Nobel Prize for Medicine for circadian rhythm work

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