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Extended Audio Sample An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,111 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kazuo Ishiguro Narrator: Frederick Davidson Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Masuji Ono saw misery in his homeland and became unwilling to spend his skills solely in the celebration of physical beauty. Instead, he envisioned a strong and powerful nation of the future, and he put his painting to work in the service of the movement that led Japan into World War II. Now, as the mature Masuji Ono struggles through the spiritual wreckage of that war, his memories of the “floating world” of his youth, full of pleasure and promise, serve as an escape from, a punishment for, and a justification of his entire life. Drifting without honor in Japan’s postwar society, which indicts him for its defeat and reviles him for his aesthetics, he relives the passage through his personal history that makes him both a hero and a coward but, above all, a human being.

An Artist of the Floating World is a sensual and profoundly convincing portrait of the artist as an aging man. At once a multigenerational tale and a samurai death poem written in English, it is also a saga of the clash of the old and new orders, blending classical and contemporary iconography with compassion and wit.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A 1986 Man Booker Prize Finalist

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Scott | 2/19/2014

    " This was one of the best books I can remember reading. It is slow moving like a river but builds on you. You have to savor it like a fine wine. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by John | 2/13/2014

    " This might be my favorite of Ishiguro's books. As in "The Remains of the Day," we have the unreliable narrator who has repressed certain dubious acts and rationalized them using appeals to higher duties. Unlike Stevens, however, Ono appears to deceive only himself, both under- and overestimating his worth, his contributions to society, and his morally questionable activities in wartime Japan. The result is, strangely, a Quixote-like figure, but much less sympathetic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Anya | 2/7/2014

    " I thought I had read all of Ishiguro's work so was excited to find this gem. What a great store. His empathy is always refreshing. There's something to be said for looking at the world from a different perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by yb | 2/4/2014

    " I read this immediately after finishing A Pale View of Hills, which left me rather disappointed. This left me slightly less disappointed, though not at all enthusiastic. The protagonist here is more compelling than in Pale View, since he grapples with the effect his career and beliefs have had on his career, the lives of his children and colleagues, and the way he sees himself as an elderly man. It may be that Ishiguro's language is too sparse, too precise - too much like what Ono should be; though Ishiguro does a very good job at crafting a realistic character in Ono, in the end I found it difficult to feel any real emotion at all for him. "

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