Kazuo Ishiguro, who won the Booker prize in 1989 for his novel The Remains of the Day, is one of the literary world’s most respected novelists. It raised eyebrows in 2005 when he published Never Let Me Go, a dystopian science fiction novel about children who discover that they are clones destined to be harvested for their organs, though the book is now regarded as one of his best works. But when the literary world learned that his new book, The Buried Giant, is an Arthurian fantasy about the quest to kill a dragon, it didn’t just raise eyebrows—it made heads explode. Ishiguro was puzzled by the response.
“People are perfectly entitled to read my book and say they don’t like it,” he says in Episode 145 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “But if they’re saying, ‘I’m not going to read your book, despite having liked your previous books, because I hear there are ogres in it,’ well, that just seems to me classic prejudice.”
He’s still not sure why certain topics provoke such consternation among some readers, but suspects it may come down to insecurity. Readers who are most attached to the idea of literature as a status symbol, and who are most desperate to be seen as serious, may eschew books that seem like too much fun.
“When we’re teenagers we’re very prone to this, you know, ‘If you like that band you’re not cool, if you wear those sneakers you’re cool,’ but with reading we should grow out of that,” he says. “And for some reason books with dragons in them arouse some sort of fear on the part of a certain kind of insecure reader.”
*what you read influences your thoughts