The Trumpbots should move on from misinterpreting Orwell to misinterpreting Ishiguro

I mean, assuming any of them actually read. But Kazuo’s 1986 book, An Artist of the Floating World, which I have not read (surprising, given my general love for his work, even that weird Giant book), cleaves far closer to the state of affairs down there than 1984.

As the sea change in our country slowly (slowly) begins to create an atmosphere in which the rats are jumping ship and Trump and his associates might face the tiniest consequences for their actions, it’s obvious to me that what’s happening isn’t out of Nineteen-Eighty-Four. It’s a narrative told in the brilliant 1986 novel An Artist of the Floating World by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro.

The book takes place in Japan after World War II and the fall of the country’s imperialist regime. It’s narrated by a man named Masuji Ono, a once-prominent painter who has aged into obscurity verging on disgrace because — as the novel slowly reveals — Ono had turned his artistic ability toward making totalitarian propaganda. As in The Remains of the Day, the reader is forced to read between the lines, in the subtext and in the reactions of the people around and to the narrator, because the narrator is unwilling to admit certain truths, even to himself. Though early in the book it seems as though Ono might understand and feel guilty for what he enabled, by the final chapters, he’s set in his ways, content with a flimsy narrative of his own goodness and unwilling to fully reckon with the pain and damage he caused to his country.

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