Strange New World

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SPLIT PERSONALITY: Born in Nagasaki and raised in Surrey, Ishiguro attributes his detached, clinical writing style to the reserve and discretion of his shared Japanese and British heritage

Would the real Kazuo Ishiguro please stand up? The 50-year-old novelist is a tough man to classify. Born in Nagasaki, bred in Surrey (where he lived from the age of 5), he looks Japanese, but speaks with the accent of public-school England. Three of his six novels are set in the Far East, the other three explore the quintessence of Englishness. After the stately, hugely successful The Remains of the Day, which spawned the 1993 movie, Ishiguro went wild; his next two novels — The Unconsoled and When We Were Orphans — subjected their characters to chaos, violence and...