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An Artist Of The Floating World

3.72  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,007 Ratings  ·  884 Reviews

It is 1948. Japan is rebuilding her cities after the calamity of World War Two, her people putting defeat behind them and looking to the future. The celebrated artist, Masuji Ono, fills his days attending to his garden, his house repairs, his two grown daughters and his grandson; his evenings drinking with old associates in quiet lantern-lit bars. His should be a tranquil

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Kindle Edition, UK Edition, 212 pages
Published January 9th 2009 by Faber and Faber Fiction (first published March 17th 1986)
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Karl Ono is a relic of pre-WW2 Japan. Imperial Japan had an incredibly insular and nationalistic culture during, and prior to WW2. He, like many, was…moreOno is a relic of pre-WW2 Japan. Imperial Japan had an incredibly insular and nationalistic culture during, and prior to WW2. He, like many, was fervently proud and dedicated to Japan's cause. As an artist, he produced propaganda.
After Japan lost the war, their cultural attitude shifted. Those clinging to imperialist ideas were often shunned and ostracized. There are scenes in the book in which Ono's former students actively distance themselves from him. He's respected as an institution of the past, but practically a pariah in the current world. Ono resents that the generation of young men whom he taught, who also created pro-imperialist propaganda, won't own up to their involvement. He has the luxury, being retired, of judging them, but their generation has to deny their involvement if they have any hope of respectable careers and lives in postwar Japan.
Then there's the next generation, that of Ono's grandson. Ichiro was born a few years before the end of the war. He's growing up in a world where Western culture is prevalent. He's obsessed with American television, movies, cartoons and comics. His generation is the product of a new culture, one to which Ono can't relate.
Japan went through a relatively quick period of dramatic change, its culture in flux, its generations split by dramatic cultural shifts. (less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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William1
Jan 12, 2016 William1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 20-ce, uk
Second reading. The gist of this novel is the narrator's culpability for his patriotic actions during the war with the U.S. Set in a suburb of Tokyo during the American occupation, the narrator, Masuji Ono, is now surrounded by those who blame him for Japan's disastrous gamble on war and those like himself. Ono's generation was that of the old men cheerleading for war. And there can be no question about his complicity. In his youth he trained as an artist of the demimonde or "floating world," bu ...more
Samadrita
If you've already read The Remains of the Day, chances are your enjoyment of An Artist of the Floating World will be greatly curtailed. And that is the sheer tragedy of this book.

Replace Stevens with Masuji Ono. Replace a tottering England with a war-ravaged, financially unstable Japan and insert Ishiguro's penchant for allegory. And TADA you have An Artist of the Floating World.

This book had potential to be a very emotionally charged commentary on a nation rebuilding itself from its charred (at
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K.D. Absolutely
Jul 02, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Booker Shortlist; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2010)
I thought Kazuo Ishiguro was not one of the authors who do not rewrite themselves. This book proved me wrong. He is like many other authors who write at least two novels with similar plot, themes and even characters. They just change some aspects of the novel like settings, climax or maybe the names of the places and people. I was disappointed but the disappointment was not enough for me to give this 1 star because the book still has all those Ishiguro's trademarks that made me fall in love with ...more
Selena
Jan 26, 2009 Selena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
After reading Never Let Me Go, I swore that I would read more of Ishiguro's work. It was fate that I ran across An Artist of the Floating World at my Library. The novel isn't a particularly long one - coming in at a mere 206 pages. It was a breeze to get through.

I'm noticing that with Ishiguro's narrators so far, the tone is very conversational. Throughout this book, the protagonist Masuji Ono, a retired artist, speaks intimately to the reader

Throughout the book, Masuji Ono, the protagonist, spe
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Praj
Jun 03, 2012 Praj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ki
Each time my eyelids bowed down to the devil of grave drowsiness, the concave depths displayed a lean, modest shadowy figure standing on the Bridge of Hesitation; the wrinkles on his forehead becoming deeper , trembling with culpability, wishing for Noriko’s miai to be an incessant success. The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow">Jerome K Jerome was accurate with his analysis of the solitude of an idle mind bringing generous thoughts. There I was, nursing an acute bronchial cough cursing the fat ...more
Whitaker
Aug 17, 2009 Whitaker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who finds this review meaningful...
In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!
matt
Steady, measured, gentle, sure-handed, slightly seductive.

Ishiguro's narrator is fooling himself for sure throughout his tale, but you almost believe him.

Some wonderfully graceful pacing, with the situations and pages melting into one another, which as one reviewer here remarked, makes a "floating world" all its own.

It sort of reminds me of the thing said about Flaubert's "Sentimental Education"- the main theme is largely heard in the background. For Flaubert it was revolutionary upheaval in mid
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Barry Pierce
There's enjoyable monotony and then there's monotonous monotony. This novel falls into the latter category. Disappointingly. I personally think Ishiguro suffers the sophomore struggle with this novel. Eh, I don't know. This one just wasn't for me. It didn't entice me at all. I was just reading about these characters doing things and that was really it. However it written very well. But that's expected from Ishiguro.
Lobstergirl
Sep 04, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Amy Pinto-Walsh
Shelves: fiction

With this my reading of Ishiguro's canon is complete. So he'd better be working on something new.

The novel is set in postwar Japan. The first person narrator, Mr. Ono, is a retired artist reflecting back on his career and life. He is widowed, and his son was killed in a minefield in Manchuria. He has two adult daughters and one grandson. As he explains his daughter Noriko's attempts to find a husband, we are first led to believe that her lack of success is simply a result of unfortunate timing;
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AC
What a rich and marvelous novel. And what emotional depth Ishiguro displays.... I not only thoroughly enjoyed this book, I admired it. Highly recommended
mai ahmd

تدور هذه الرواية البديعة حول رسام متقاعد يعيش مع ابنته نوريكو ويقضي أيامه في البيت في إصلاح حديقة البيت يسترجع أيامه الماضية أثناء الحرب وما بعدها
لديه إيمانه الخاص بالمثل والقيم التي شكلت مبادئه الخاصة ومواقفه أثناء الحرب إلا أن بعض هذه المواقف وقفت حاجزا بين سعادة ابنته وبين المضي قدما في عالم متغير ، مع محاولات الرسام لتصحيح الأوضاع تتدفق ذكريات الماضي بحلوها ومرّها ، من خلال أحداث الرواية يستطلع القارىء على تفاصيل كثيرة بشأن الحياة في اليابان وعن فن الرسم وتأثيرات المعلمين ، عن المحاسبة الأخ
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J.
May 30, 2014 J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, ishiguro
His influence over us was not, of course, confined merely to the realms of painting. We lived throughout those years almost entirely in accordance with his values and lifestyle, and this entailed spending much time exploring the city's 'floating world' -- the night-time world of pleasure, entertainment and drink which formed the backdrop for all our paintings. I always feel a certain nostalgia now in recalling the city centre as it was in those days; the streets were not so filled with the noise ...more
Jim
Nov 15, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written story of an aging Japanese artist who looks back on his career and his role in the "patriotic" movement toward imperialism and war. He struggles to understand the changing Japanese culture, the shunting aside of the older generation that is distrusted by pro-American factions, the attitudes of his two daughters and grandson, and his own faulty memories. There are wonderful insights into post-war Japan, the role of loyalty, the struggles between teacher and pupil. He is egotistical ...more
Evan Leach
Written between Ishiguro’s first novel (A Pale View of Hills) and his most famous (The Remains of the Day), An Artist of the Floating World borrows elements from both. The setting of postwar Japan is the same one featured in his first book, while the story and style are strongly reminiscent of The Remains of the Day (in a sense, this is an adaptation of The Remains of the Day from the master’s perspective). The finished product lies somewhere between Hills and Remains of the Day , but given tha ...more
Seth T.
Nov 30, 2009 Seth T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is, so far, my second-favourite Ishiguro book. Even if it wasn't, as advertised, a novel.

An Artist of the Floating World is the fifth of Kazuo Ishiguro's works I've read. I've been gradually working my way through since last year. I only have A Pale View of the Hills and Remains of the Day Left. I'm saving Remains of the Day for last—as it's the one that bought him all the acclaim. I'm almost certain to be disappointed, I guess. I'd almost have to be.

But that's neither here nor there becaus
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Sawsan Amien
الحرب العالمية الثانية لها تأثير كبير على الأدب الياباني
يكتب كازو إيشيجورو عن التحولات في الفكر الياباني بعد الحرب, ورأي الشباب عن مسئولية الجيل القديم عن الحرب والهزيمة
من خلال فنان رسام متقاعد دعم الحرب وهو ما كان يؤمن به ويعتبره من الوطنية والنفع لبلده
لكن بتغيُر العالم واختلافه سياسيا وثقافيا, وبعد ما لحق باليابان من أذى الحرب, يُعيد تقييم مواقفه وأحداث حياته الماضية التي أثرت على حاضره وعلى علاقته ببناته
الكاتب يمر في الرواية على موضوعات مختلفة منها تأثر الشباب الياباني بالثقافة الأمريكية بع
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Kerry
Dec 10, 2012 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, reviewed
Ishiguro is the master of creating an unreliable narrator. I noticed this in his novel “When We Were Orphans” as well - There are slight discrepancies in what the main character tells us and how he interprets the events surrounding him. Ishiguro has a delicate method of making the reader aware of these small problems and contradictions without constantly beating us over the head. It’s all a matter of nuance, not power.

This narrative viewpoint is part of what makes this novel so striking. The sto
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David
Sep 26, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark-orange-band
Ishiguro's artist of the floating world discusses with his grandson the life of a composer of popular wartime marches:

"'He wasn't a bad man. He was just someone who worked very hard doing what he thought was for the best. But you see, Ichiro, when the war ended, things were very different. The songs Mr Naguchi composed had become very famous, not just in this city, but all over Japan. They were sung on the radio and in bars. And the likes of your Uncle Kenji sang them when they were marching or
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Rebecca
I read this book in a rush just this afternoon, I loved it. And now I'm going to try and say what I thought of it before I cheat and read other reviews! There might be some mild spoilers but as little actually happens they can't be too bad.

Basically, the main character Ono was a very talented and famous artist who painted pictures promoting (and possibly was involved with planning & carrying out) the changes in Japan before WW2... and now he's dealing with the guilt. Lots of other people wh
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Aubrey
I finished this book on a very blue note. The narrator has a great amount of emotion built up that he refuses to acknowledge, and keeps a 'stiff upper lip'; acting almost normal despite the fact the world he once knew and loved has been completely eradicated by the war and those adapting to the aftermath. Even worse is he sees himself as being at fault for the destruction, although truthfully, as an artist he couldn't have had that much impact on Japan's decisions concerning the war. (view spoil ...more
Karol
Aug 30, 2009 Karol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know very little about post-WWII Japan, and all that I knew came from the perspective of Americans. It was fascinating, therefore, to read this story from a Japanese author who was born in the post-war era. It is about an artist who gained a measure of respect and renown while working as a loyal supporter of the Japanese emperor. After the war, he struggles with the changes in Japanese society as well as his loss of esteem in society - particularly among the younger generation who tended to bl ...more
Oscar
La producción literaria de Kazuo Ishiguro es escasa, cuenta tan solo con siete novelas. Tarda varios años en escribir y publicar un nuevo libro, tal vez porque le gusta poner un cuidado especial en todo lo que escribe, obviando las presiones a las que debe ser sometido por las editoriales, y dejando a un lado la fama y el prestigio que ha ido adquiriendo con su obra, de los que podría aprovecharse como hacen otros autores para vender cualquier “cosa” que se les pasa por la cabeza. Como el protag ...more
umberto
Dec 30, 2012 umberto rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, japan
This was the first novel, by Kazuo Ishiguro, that I finished reading due to its seemingly familiar title. From its 206 pages, I think, most readers should find reading it quite manageable as guaranteed by its Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1986. Reading it, as for me, was relatively enjoyable since I needed concentration in following various episodes and its key protagonist named Masuji Ono, the eminent painter, during his retiring years in the midst of his family, neighbours ...more
Isabelle
Jun 21, 2010 Isabelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am finding it somewhat difficult to talk about this novel, and I am not sure why... The plot is not that complex, the novel is modest in length, the language and style are limpid... So what is it?
It has got to be the intricacies and subtleties of the main character we only get to know a very little at a time, while he pieces together fragments of his past for us, almost reluctantly.
Of course, the difficulty is compounded by our meager Western understanding of Japan's imperialist bid on Asia cu
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Lady Studland
Jun 05, 2016 Lady Studland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of Ishiguro's works and this book was no exception. It takes place in Japan after WWII and the Japanese are struggling with their identity in the wake of defeat. Ishiguro's lyrical writing is always mesmerizing.
Arne
Nov 05, 2007 Arne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story, but even better writer. His stories are seamless and he really gets at character development, but in a way that you don't think you're reading fiction, it seems completely natural and real...in terms of writing, he's fantastic.
Alireza
Jun 10, 2015 Alireza rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, novel
هر چه می خواهید بگویید ولی حسابی خسته کننده است.
Holly
Dec 26, 2015 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My reviews are so uninspired lately, but it'll come back eventually, just like my month-long disillusionment with reading earlier this year. This is my third Ishiguro, and it fell squarely in between The Remains of the Day (glorious) and Never Let Me Go (meh). Ishiguro's writing is exquisite, restrained, and serene. I've never read an Ishiguro synopsis and thought "I need to read this book," yet I'm always immediately swept up with his prose. There are a lot of comparisons to Remains, but really ...more
julieta
May 14, 2012 julieta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I find myself currently obsessed with the post war theme. What people are before a war, and what they are after the war. How in a matter of a short time in months or years, they are a different person. Also a city becomes an unrecognizable place. Someone who was a teacher, is now hated by his ex pupil. Cities that used to be something are completely changed. Everything is different, everything is sadder. A war is never something that creates something, it destroys, it changes but not in a positi ...more
Monique
Apr 02, 2013 Monique rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Original post here.

The last time I read an Ishiguro was in April of last year - his Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall , which I thoroughly enjoyed. After that, I had been meaning to read this book as a follow-up, but despite having it included in several months' worth of reading lists (carried over from one on to the next), I finally gave up attempting to pick it up and focused on other authors and/or books in the meantime. The inspiration to read Ishiguro again will come sooner or
...more
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Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄) is a British novelist of Japanese origin. His family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from the University of Kent in 1978 and his Master's from the University of East Anglia's creative writing course in 1980. He became a British citizen in 1982. He now lives in London.

His first novel, A Pale View of Hills, won the 1982 Winifred Ho
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“When you are young, there are many things which appear dull and lifeless. But as you get older, you will find these are the very things that are most important to you.” 29 likes
“An artist's concern is to capture beauty wherever he finds it.” 23 likes
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