Special Issue MFS (Modern Fiction Studies): “Ishiguro After the Nobel.”

deadline for submissions: 
January 5, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Kelly Mee Rich (Harvard) and Chris Holmes (Ithaca)
contact email: 

Ishiguro After the Nobel 

Guest Editors: Chris Holmes and Kelly M. Rich​
Deadline for Submissions: 5 January 2020

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro struck a note resonant with the critical apparatus that has followed him attentively since the publication of his first novel, A Pale View of Hills, in 1982: “If you’d come across me in the autumn of 1979, you might have had some difficulty placing me.” The issue of Ishiguro’s uncertain placement as a Japanese-British writer of novels of enigmatic affect and a withdrawn style has occupied critics and popular audiences as a point of entry into his work. Whether in the so-called Japanese novels of his early career, the quintessentially British manor novel, or the more recent experiments with genre fiction, Ishiguro’s novels have engaged the critical theories of his moment while refusing to ally themselves with any single methodology for reading. With a Nobel and Booker Prize in hand, Ishiguro would seem a canonized global Anglophone writer, a part of the putative world of world literature, recognizable and locatable in a lineage of writers embraced by theories of the contemporary novel. And yet the novels appear structured precisely to resist worldliness as a concept, relegating their characters to states of nonknowing, where physical and epistemological claustrophobia reign. Butlers and painters do not understand their complicity in political violence, detectives and knights find clues illegible, and schoolchildren learn nothing of the institutions that educate them. If our attraction to his work can be explained in part by its refusals, what does it mean to call Ishiguro our contemporary?

Given the new urgency to reevaluate Ishiguro after his winning the Nobel Prize, this special issue seeks essays that contend with Ishiguro’s current literary legacy as well as expand an understanding of how his work has changed our study of the novel and its institutions. Possible questions for consideration include the following: What can be said about Ishiguro’s novelistic trajectory, regarding its phases, development, and reinventions? What is Ishiguro’s relationship with the conventions of genre and genre fiction, and does the popularity of his novels disprove certain assumptions about the novel’s decline? What do we make of Ishiguro’s work beyond the novel form, such as his short story collection, screenwriting projects, and the film adaptations of Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go? How do contemporary theories speak to his oeuvre, including affect theory, sociology of literature, neoliberalism, human rights theory, and the Anthropocene? Is Ishiguro postcolonial, and what relationship does his work have to the history and politics of that term? Relatedly, how does his writing and its attendant critical apparatus confirm or complicate paradigms for world literature and global modernism? And finally, how has the economy of prestige after the Nobel shifted Ishiguro’s place in the literary order of things?

Essays should be 7,000-9,000 words, including all quotations and bibliographic references, and should follow the MLA Handbook (8th edition) for internal citation and Works Cited. Please submit your essay via the online submission form at the following web address: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/mfs.

Queries should be directed to Chris Holmes (cholmes@ithaca.edu) and Kelly M. Rich (rich@fas.harvard.edu).