Kazuo Ishiguro won the Noble Lit­er­ature Prize. Facebook

When Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Lit­er­ature last year, most of us could hum along as the scratchy voice sung folk lyrics. If not, we pulled up Spotify, searched the laureate’s name, and famil­iarized our­selves with Dylan’s poetry in quick, four-minute hits.

Nov­elist and screen­writer Kazuo Ishiguro earned the prize this year, and I’m guessing plenty of stu­dents didn’t rec­ognize his name — much less attach it to one of his novels — when the Swedish Academy announced it had smiled upon another genius. 

I’ve never read Ishiguro, but I have bumped his best-known books high on my reading list, sched­uling them for fall break or sooner — you should, too. Here’s why: Unlike many Nobel Prize winners, Ishiguro earned this award by writing good books, not by cham­pi­oning a political statement.

The New York Times of all places offered this expla­nation of his selection: The academy chose Ishiguro because his work deserved the honor, not because his work offered any kind of political agenda. We live in a nation whose people have made political state­ments of football games, music, movies, social media, tragedies. But here we have a man and his stories, free of agenda. Hal­lelujah.

Ishiguro has written seven novels, all of which have demanded the attention of critics and pleasure readers alike. His stories hop places and eras, touring Japan (his birth­place) and England (his home) as he weaves dif­ferent nar­ra­tives through pre- and post-World War II before plum­meting into Medieval England.

Sara Danius, the per­manent sec­retary of the Swedish Academy, described his style in a way that would have any Hillsdale book worm scrib­bling Ishiguro’s books on their Christmas lists.

“If you mix Jane Austen and Franz Kafka then you have Kazuo Ishiguro in a nut­shell, but you have to add a little bit of Marcel Proust into the mix,” Danius told the Times.

As for his books, Ishiguro enjoys exploring time and memory. 

“I’ve always liked the texture of memory. I like it that a scene pulled from the narrator’s memory is blurred at the edges, layered with all sorts of emo­tions, and open to manip­u­lation,” Ishiguro told the Readers Read blog. “I love all these subtle things you can do when you tell a story through someone’s mem­ories.”

Ishiguro’s favorite nov­elist is Char­lotte Brontë, although she has only recently sur­passed his love for Fyodor Dos­toyevsky. He longs for another Jane Austen novel that would explore love beyond the wedding day. He obsesses over new trans­la­tions of the “Odyssey” and the “Iliad.” He has anthologies of Flannery O’Connor and Carson McCuller stacked next to his night­stand. And, most endear­ingly, he adores Joni Mitchell, the Canadian singer-song­writer who graced the 70’s.

Ishiguro enthralls me because we have a lot in common (except for his sheer genius and award-winning craft). We like music, we like books, and we like Joni Mitchell.

But I want to read his lit­er­ature because he has sold me on his soft, humorous voice. I don’t feel pres­sured to read his books so I can be the best version of whatever political identity I’ve assumed. I don’t feel assaulted by an agenda. 

I just want to read his books. I hope you do, too.