What do you say when you meet THE Kazuo Ishiguro? You hem and haw and think of something brilliant to say. But then, your palms sweat and you realize that the most intelligent words that are probably going to come out of your mouth are “I’m a fan”.
Well today, thanks to a private bookseller and blogger event held at the famed King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto, I got to meet the man himself. And, it wasn’t just your average “hello-great-to-meet-you-I’m-a-big-fan” kind of meeting, but an opportunity to have an actually conversation with the man, one that surprising lasted more than ten minutes. I certainly have been lucky to meet several authors in my lifetime, and when I get the chance to do so there always seems to be some sort of invisible line I’m well aware is drawn between the author and fan. Most of the time you stick to polite conversation that you know means more to you than the author. Although who can really blame them? They meet thousands of book-thirsty fans during their tour, clawing eagerly to their stacks of to-be-signed books. No doubt all they want to do is crawl back into their comfortable writing nook, and turn off all contact with the outside world.
But at the Consort Bar at The King Edward Hotel it was different. Right from the onset, we were greeted and welcomed by a wonderful representative from Chapters Indigo. There were many booksellers there, including the ever-present Ben McNally.
This was Kazuo Ishiguro after all, not just a man of pure brilliance as I learned today, but also one who is humble and gracious and an amazing conversationalist. Before the event, I was almost one hundred percent certain that I would find Kazuo Ishiguro an articulate, down-to-earth author, one who oozes brilliance with the few words he said. I imagined that he would speak and there would be an audience hanging on to every word, but what I hadn’t expected was the tables to turn. That Kazuo would actually be listening to us and be interested in what we had to say.
It’s probably a given that I would be in awe of this bona fide writer, who can combine fantasy and reality with such ease, and manage to make you feel, see and dream about The Buried Giant with a captivating fierceness.
What I hadn’t really expected when I got out on the right side of the bed this morning, was that before the afternoon was over, I would be a huge fan of Kazuo Ishikuro’s better half, Lorna MacDougall. Just prior to being graced by the esteemed writer’s presence, a charming, well-spoken woman, turned to join our little group of bloggers, and began chatting with us. At the beginning it was mostly nods and smiles from us, but with a wonderful persistence, she made us feel at ease, and soon after we were chatting about everything under the sun, from TIFF, Keira Knightley and what a nice, nice, person David Mitchell is.
When I read The Buried Giant, one of the simple things that struck me earlier on is Axl’s relationship with his wife. Their mutual affection is clear, but after so many years of married life, I loved the way he spoke to his wife Beatrice.
“‘Don’t worry, princess. Don’t worry.’ He was conscious of the emptiness of what he was saying even as he spoke…”
And, after meeting Kazuo Ishiguro and Lorna MacDougall, you wonder whether he used his own life as inspiration for the relationship.
The man is pure brilliance. To those who have read all his novels, it seems to be hard to allocate a label to this style. Kazuo-esque? He hasn’t written a novel in over a decade. His other two novels The Remains Of The Day and Never Let Me Go have been adapted into movies. Yet, the man remains a bit of a mystery and you never know what to expect.
If you are new to Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels, The Buried Giant is a good place to start. Fans of his previous novels don’t need to be convinced. This book has been highly anticipated.
Thanks to Random House Canada for the invite to this absolutely delightful event. And, to all my fellow bloggers who made this day even more enjoyable, I look forward to the next book love event.