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Ishiguro: The Buried Memory

Ishiguro: The Buried Memory

Kazuo Ishiguro, Man Booker winner in 1989 with The Remains of the Day, is a famously slow writer. His latest novel, The Buried Giant, has just been published and took a full 10 years to write. He has written ‘only’ seven novels in all. Imagine his surprise, then, when he discovered that there were two other novels that had somehow slipped his memory. When sorting through his papers recently he came across two books that pre-date his official first novel A Pale View of Hills (1982): ‘I had thought they were much more casual – I had invented a narrative for myself that the novels I had written before A Pale View of Hills were unfinished. Actually, there were three drafts of each novel. It came as a mild shock to me that they existed in such finished form. The first one is awful – really, really dull. I would not in a million years think this person had a future as a writer. Then there’s a second one, and that one is written more carefully, which makes it more embarrassing.’ Frustratingly the interviewer didn't press him as to what he did with these manuscripts. Ishiguro's words make it clear though that they will never be seen in print.

What a modest man is David Nicholls. You might have thought that the author of the uber-hit One Day (five million plus copies sold) would have little to be modest about – especially since that book's success was backed by a Man Booker longlisting last year for Us. Nicholls revealed at the Bath Literature Festival, however, that he was relieved Us didn't go on to make the shortlist: ‘I was a little bit relieved when it wasn’t named on the shortlist, because there would be a national newspaper with a headline saying: “Hasn’t the Booker dumbed down” and a big picture of me.’ He also revealed that adapting One Day for the screen had been a stressful experience that he's not keen to repeat. Not even with Us? ‘The idea of condensing everything to two hours seems wrong to me. If it does get adapted it might be on television.’

Hilary Mantel's gong-gathering continues apace. She has barely got used to her damehood than she must add an honorary degree from the University of Oxford to her daunting CV. Dame Hilary has just been named as one of six recipients of Oxford's esteem and largesse alongside, among others, the historian of Nazi Germany Richard Evans, the heart surgeon Magdi Yacoub and the opera singer Jessye Norman. Dame Hilary and the others will don gown and mortarboard and line up alongside hundreds of excited undergraduates to receive their degrees on 24th June.

Should the new Oxford graduate be feeling peckish after her exertions, she might give a wistful thought for those lucky enough to have grabbed tickets to the stage productions of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies in New York. The enterprising café at the Rockerfeller Center round the corner from Broadway is offering theatre-goers what it calls ‘a traditional English feast’ to tide them over the interval between the plays. And just what is Chef Antonio Prontelli's ‘modern take on the cuisine of the Tudors’? It involves a Scotch egg, shepherd's pie and Eton Mess. So now you know (though neither Cromwell or Henry VIII scoffed such fare in the just-finished television adaptations – and the items comprising Anne Boleyn's last meal were not vouchsafed).