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Emily Horton

Emily Horton explores Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel, considering his negotiation of the discourses of memory and trauma in order to investigate their relevance to postwar migrant experience. Focusing on A Pale View of Hills’s repeated engagement with Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, Horton demonstrates how Ishiguro provides a world literary critique of Orientalist thinking and exposes the discriminatory discourses underpinning Western accounts of Japanese culture. The novel, in this sense, questions stereotypical accounts of ‘Eastern fragility’ and victimhood, and their role in nurturing ‘false nationalist mythologies’ that fail to align with complexities of migratory experience. In addition to this world literary rereading, the chapter also investigates the lingering impact of memorial revision, guilt and disavowal in relation to the mother–daughter relationship of Etsuko and Niki, particularly in relation to their diasporic negotiation of the past. Providing a finely balanced critique of postwar Orientalism, as well as an acknowledgement of the historical ties to prewar Japanese imperialism, A Pale View of Hills negotiates what Horton terms ‘a multi-directional approach to history and memory’, disrupting any simplistic East v. West cultural binaries. Horton’s concentration on Ishiguro’s authorial fascination with the migratory nature of memory and the lingering effects of trauma develops a common thread that runs throughout the following chapters in the volume.

in Kazuo Ishiguro