‘She was Japanese and she had hung herself in her room’: Theorising Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills

Julie Mehta


This study of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel, A Pale View of Hills, with its strong autobiographical elements, locates the British writer in exile within the paradigmatic cognitive geography of twentieth-century post-war Japan. Through explorations of reiterative imagery of love and death this essay hazards a theory about why the settler remains unsettled. I argue that the author seems to have experienced multiple disruptions of cultural ideologies of empires—both British and Japanese. And in his unique tellings, he reveals the displacement, dissonance, dichotomies and paradoxes that accompany the conditions of exile, especially when coupled with hybridity in a uniquely sakoku (secluded nation) situation that is Japan. Significantly, Ishiguro’s engagement with exile generates a number of contradictions, gaps and questions at best; and, at worst, unresolvable tensions which are finally signposted in the novel’s ambiguous ending.

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University of Sunderland

ISSN 2057-2042 (Print)
ISSN 2057-2050 (Online)



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