Kazuo Ishiguro: ‘Write What You Know’ is the Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Heard
“azuo Ishiguro, author of The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, and most recently The Buried Giant, and oh, also our newest Nobel Laureate in Literature, turns 63 today. I have long admired Ishiguro’s work, which seems almost effortless, presenting its multi-faceted subjects with cold-water clarity while nimbly experimenting with genre, style, and subject. He also has the distinction of being among the small class of authors whose work is critically lauded and commercially successful, which is no small feat. So in case you would like to follow in his footsteps—who wouldn’t—here’s Ishiguro on his process, what he likes (and hates) to see in literature, and some advice for young writers.
Don’t write what you know.
‘Write about what you know’ is the most stupid thing I’ve heard. It encourages people to write a dull autobiography. It’s the reverse of firing the imagination and potential of writers. —from an interview with ShortList
Let go of genre boundaries.
Write towards emotions, not morals.
I’m not looking for any kind of clear moral, and I never do in my novels. I like to highlight some aspect of being human. I’m not really trying to say, so don’t do this, or do that. I’m saying, this is how it feels to me. Emotions are very important to me in a novel. —from an interview at HuffPost.”