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An Artist of the Floating World

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  18,238 ratings  ·  1,560 reviews
In the face of the misery in his homeland, the artist Masuji Ono was unwilling to devote his art solely to the celebration of physical beauty. Instead, he put his work in the service of the imperialist movement that led Japan into World War II.

Now, as the mature Ono struggles through the aftermath of that war, his memories of his youth and of the “floating world”—the noct
Paperback, 206 pages
Published March 3rd 2005 by Faber and Faber (first published 1986)
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Lisa I think his daughter was incorrect. Family honour is very important in Japan and I think she was embarrassed by some of the art that he produced in…moreI think his daughter was incorrect. Family honour is very important in Japan and I think she was embarrassed by some of the art that he produced in that earlier time. I could be wrong, but I just felt more empathy about him and the way his daughters treated him got my spidey sense tickling, for lack of a better explanation.(less)
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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3.75  · 
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 ·  18,238 ratings  ·  1,560 reviews

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Jim Fonseca
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-authors
Did you ever wonder what it was like in Japan after its defeat in WW II? So here we are in Japan in 1947. Our main character, an older man and an artist, lost his wife in a stray bomb that also destroyed much of his home, and he also lost his only son in the war. But he still has two daughters; one married with a son, and one trying to get married, but she’s getting a bit old for that time and culture; she’s past her mid-20’s.

Japan was occupied by the United States, of course, and we imposed our
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, fiction, 20-ce
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
Rereading this novel I felt that the award of the 2017 Nobel prize for Literature to Ishiguro was a very safe choice.

In one way Ishiguro's books are not very interesting, the narrator might be unreliable or limited, there is a concern for memory and the role of a creative intelligence in understanding and reinterpreting the past, there are issues of guilt and responsibility, and love. And one can find these elements in book after book. But he is deft and clever, a safe choice for the nobel prize
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Ishiguro is at his absolute best when he is exploring pain. He takes mundane characters, ordinary people, and demonstrates how the present is perpetually pervaded by the past.

Memories shape us and, in some ways, define who we are. There is no moving away from them, no matter how hard we might try. And that’s what makes most of his stories so compelling, the human struggle is something he evokes in all its bitterness; yet, here he failed.

Normally when I pick up one of his novels I am drawn strai
Issa Deerbany
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nobel-winners
الفن عندما يحمل رسالة الى شعب ما. يحاول المؤلف في أعقاب استسلام اليابان بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية. رسم صورة لمجتمع اليابان بعد الاحداث التي أدت الى تدمير البلاد. والعودة الى الوراء لمحاسبة الذين كان لهم التأثير على ما حدث وَقّاد البلاد الى هذا الدمار. ربما لم يكن تأثير الرسامون واضحا كما هو تأثير رجال السياسة والأعمال والعسكريين، رغم انهم شاركوا بمجهود وافر في رسم الروح التي سادت في ذلك الوقت.

من خلال العودة بالذاكرة والتقاط الاحداث والمناقشات مع الفنانين المعلمين والزملاء يعبر بصورة رائعة عن هذ
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
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2018
There's such much drama in nothing at all! That's the genius of Ishiguro: here and in his masterpiece Remains of the Day, the actual plot is that nothing happens, and it's fuckin' gripping.

Masuji Ono is an artist. During World War II he ended up on the wrong team; he arted up some propaganda, and now that Japan's lost the war he is embarrassing. His reputation has crashed. Maybe his daughter's impending marriage will be called off, if the family discovers some of his disgraceful former attitudes
May 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
الحرب العالمية الثانية لها تأثير كبير على الأدب
يكتب كازو إيشيجورو عن التحولات في الفكر الياباني بعد الحرب
ورأي الشباب عن مسئولية الجيل القديم عن الحرب والهزيمة
رسام متقاعد آمن بالحرب ودعمها بفنه يُعيد تقييم مواقفه وأحداث حياته الماضية
بعد الأذى الذي تعرضت له بلده وتغيُر العالم سياسيا وثقافيا
الكاتب يمر في الرواية على موضوعات مختلفة منها تأثر الشباب الياباني بالثقافة الأمريكية بعد الحرب
التقاليد اليابانية في الزواج والتعاملات اليومية, وسرعة وجدية خطوات النهوض والتعافي في اليابان بعد الهزيمة
Michael Finocchiaro
An Artist of the Floating World is a nice pleasant read. Although Ishiguro had not lived through this period and lives in England, he evokes the languid rhythms of life in post-war Japan with panache. His protagonist addresses the reader in the second person over the entire book, telling us of his career as a propagandistic artist of pre-war Imperial Japan and his retirement. There is a marked similarity between Oji and the protagonist of The Remains of the Day, in that each had acted in morally ...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 19, 2010 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
Sam Quixote
Set in Japan right after WW2, Masuji Ono, a retired artist, looks back on his life and career from when he was a celebrated painter in the pre-war years to the social pariah he now is in the post-war years thanks to his ties to imperialist Japan. Doesn’t sound like much of a story, does it? It isn’t!

I remember really enjoying Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, so much so that I read it twice, so I don’t know why I’ve never read anything else by the guy. I decided to pick up the novel he w
Sidharth Vardhan
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, nobel
"And if on reaching the foot of the hill which climbs up to my house, you pause at the Bridge of Hesitation and look back towards the remains of our old pleasure district, if the sun has not yet set completely, you may see the line of old telegraph poles – still without wires to connect them – disappearing into the gloom down the route you have just come, And you may be able to make out the dark clusters of birds perched uncomfortably on the tops of the poles, as though awaiting the wires along
Jan 19, 2009 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
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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
Barry Pierce
Jan 18, 2015 rated it it was ok
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.
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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!
Abram Dorrough
Masuji Ono, the narrator, fights a constant battle against himself. Ono must emotionally cope with not only the guilt he feels from his past participation in injurious governmental activities, but also the pains of ageing and the loneliness he experiences through both the death of family members and his alienation from the new generation. Ono’s writings are a form of self-therapy. His tactic is to postpone the recognition of his past and spend as much time as possible avoiding a confrontation wi ...more
Jason Pettus
THE GREAT COMPLETIST CHALLENGE: In which I revisit older authors and attempt to read every book they ever wrote

Currently in the challenge: Margaret Atwood | Christopher Buckley | Daphne Du Maurier | Michel Houellebecq | John Irving | Kazuo Ishiguro | Shirley Jackson | Bernard Malamud | VS Naipaul | Tim Powers | Philip Roth | John Updike | Kurt Vonnegut

Now that I've read what is arguably Nobel-winner Kazuo Ishiguro's most famous novel, 1989's The Remains of the Day, it was fascinating to go back
Sep 25, 2009 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;
Ani Lacy
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is difficult to describe. What is it about? An old man, an artist, a young man, grandchildren and satisfaction. Also regret and the courage to live a life you can be proud of.
I liked the theme of the book, the setting, and what it is trying to say. I even enjoyed the writing and the details of post-war life in Japan sporadically. I just found the book in its whole rather boring. I really enjoy this style of narrative in films and Japanese films like in Cha no Oji or Tenten, which are good examples of this style. But it didn't work well as a novel for me.

I am not completely sure what the author is trying to say either. Was it an apology for Japan's excesses during the
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Το θέμα που πραγματεύεται το βιβλίο αφορά την Ιαπωνία μετά το τέλος του Δεύτερου Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου. Δεν είχα ασχοληθεί ποτέ με το αντικείμενο και ομολογώ πως δεν ξέρω και πολλά γι' αυτό. Όμως ήταν πολύ ενδιαφέρον και νομίζω πως αξίζει λίγο ψάξιμο.
An Artist of the Floating World has much the same flavor to it that Remains of the Day possesses. It is a first person narrative from a narrator who is obvious in his inability to be impartial or reliable. As we try to piece together the truth of this man and his life, there is a heaviness of spirit that emerges, a sense of failure that is misunderstood, and a sense that Ono, the narrator, not only misunderstands himself but also those around him.

Like much of Ishiguro’s work, this book leaves yo
Czarny Pies
Kazuo Ishiguro le lauréat du Prix Nobel de Littérature de 2017 est en très grande forme dans "Un artiste du monde flottant". Le défaut de ce roman le plus souvent signalé est qu'il ressemble trop au roman qui l'a suivi "Les Vestiges du jour". La reprise est sans le moindre doute meilleure mais je suis très content qu'Ishiguro nous a donné les deux romans.
J'ai des petites réserves à l'égard de l'authenticité de "Un artiste du monde flottant" dont les événements se déroulent au Japon parce qu'Ishi
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ishiguro hayranı olduğum yazarlardan biri. Kendisinin romanlarını tarif edecek olsam kullanacağım kelimeler ölçü ve alt metin olur. Bence kendisi çok usta bir romancı ve neyi yazacağını bildiği kadar neyi yazmaması gerektiğini ya da sileceğini iyi bilen bir yazar. Bu romanda da her satır ince ölçülüp biçilerek yazılmış, dikkatli bir okumayı hakkediyor ve de gerektiriyor.

İranlı yönetmen Asghar Fahradi ile benzer bir yönleri olduğunu düşünüyorum. Çok mu zorlama olacak bilmiyorum biri sinema biri
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Това е може би най-японската книга на Ишигуро.
Ситуацията е в следвоенна Япония. Дискусиите в романа са обичайно заподозрените - реконструкция на миналото, как войната се отразява на малкия човек, или още по-конкретно - на човекът на изкуството? Източните ценности присъстват много силно. До какво може да доведе чувството за вина и докъде може същото да те извиси?
Въпроси, чийто отговор е различен във всяка една страна, която е преживяла Втората световна война. Ишигуро дава отговорите и повдига нов
Smiley (aka umberto)
Dec 07, 2012 rated it really 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 mentioning "the Floating World" I first found in Ihara Saikaku's stories. 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 p ...more
Pedro Casserly
Kazuo Ishiguro, Premio Nobel 2017, nació en Japón pero vive desde niño en Gran Bretaña. Ha mostrado su cultura británica en la novela The remains of the day, conocida en Argentina como Lo que queda del día.
En Un artista en el mundo flotante (de igual modo que en su novela debut, Pálida luz de las colinas), muestra su cultura japonesa, no sólo por la localización de la novela, sino por el estilo amable, sereno y desapegado de la narración.
Masuji Ono es quien nos habla, desde el Japón de post-gu
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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 and Nobel Laureate in Literature (2017). 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
“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.” 46 likes
“An artist's concern is to capture beauty wherever he finds it.” 43 likes
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