I’ve been tweeting about Ishiguro’s Nobel since it happened. We’ll have to wait to understand the significance of this awarding, but I want to note my surprise, just briefly. Ishiguro is an author who is remarkable for combining a socially conscientious literature and popular appeal. Insofar as the Nobel has continually rewarded elite and complex writing, Ishiguro seems like an unusual choice. I wonder if the award reflects a shift in the social and aesthetic relationships determining “the literary field,” or perhaps just the influence of the Sara Danius, the new chair of the Nobel’s Literature committee.
Sarah Brouillette contextualizes the award in terms of a changing “literary industry.” She writes:
“These choices [of Dylan in 2016 and Ishiguro in 2017] perhaps signal a certain awareness of the contraction of the high-cultural field. To select more obscure and difficult writer would at this moment signal an unpalatable irrelevance and elitism.”
Her blog post is at this link.