As a young man, Kazuo Ishiguro wanted to be a singer and songwriter. He played at folk clubs and went through several stylistic evolutions — including a purple, poetic phase — before settling into spare, confessional lyrics.
He never succeeded in the music business, but writing songs helped shape the idiosyncratic, elliptical prose style that made him one of the most acclaimed and influential British writers of his generation. “That was all very good preparation for the kind of fiction I went on to write,” Mr. Ishiguro said in a 2015 interview with The New York Times. “You have to leave a lot of meaning underneath the surface.”
Mr. Ishiguro went on to publish seven acclaimed novels, and on Thursday, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the literary world’s highest honor.
Mr. Ishiguro, 62, is best known for his novels “The Remains of the Day,” about a butler serving an English lord in the years leading up to World War II, and “Never Let Me Go,” a melancholy dystopian love story set in a British boarding school. He has obsessively returned to the same themes in his work, including the fallibility of memory, mortality and the porous nature of time. His body of work stands out for his inventive subversion of literary genres, his acute sense of place and his masterful parsing of the British class system.