Sir Kazuo Ishiguro warns that 'cancel culture is stifling new writers'

‘Cancel culture is stifling new writers’: Nobel-winning novelist Sir Kazuo Ishiguro warns that young authors are having to self-censor amid a ‘climate of fear’

  • The Never Let Me Go novelist said he is concerned for less established writers
  • He fears authors are avoiding writing from other people’s perspectives
  • He is the latest writer to warn of the dangers of cancel culture to creativity

Novelist Sir Kazuo Ishiguro has warned that a ‘climate of fear’ is forcing young writers to self-censor.

Sir Kazuo, 66, said they were avoiding writing from viewpoints outside their own immediate experiences for fear of being cancelled by an ‘anonymous lynch mob’ online.

The Nobel Prize winner whose novels Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day were adapted for the big screen, said he was concerned for less established writers. 

Novelist Sir Kazuo Ishiguro has warned that a ‘climate of fear’ is forcing young writers to self-censor

They would feel that ‘their careers are more fragile, their reputations are more fragile and they don’t want to take risks’.

‘I think that is a dangerous state of affairs,’ he told the BBC.

‘I very much fear for the younger generation of writers. Novelists should feel free to write from whichever viewpoint they wish or represent all kinds of views. Right from an early age I’ve written from the point of view of people very different from myself. My first novel was written from the point of view of a woman.’

The novelist’s 1982 debut A Pale View of Hills tells the story of a Japanese woman trying to deal with the suicide of her daughter. Sir Kazuo, whose new novel Klara and the Sun is published today, said he does not fear being cancelled.

‘I think I’m in a privileged and relatively protected position because I’m a very established author,’ he said. ‘I’m the age I am. I have a reputation. Perhaps it’s an illusion but I think I’m protected.

‘If I shrink back from something, it’s because I would doubt my ability to be able to learn enough about it, to write fairly about it.’

Sir Kazuo was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 and moved to Britain as a young child. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2017. He was knighted in 2019.

Last year more than 100 high-profile cultural figures including JK Rowling signed an open letter which claimed the spread of ‘censoriousness’ was leading to ‘a vogue for public shaming and ostracism’

The 2010 film version of Never Let Me Go starred Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan while the adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning The Remains of the Day in 1993 starred Dame Emma Thompson and Sir Anthony Hopkins. 

He is just the latest writer to speak out about the dangers to creativity and free thinking posed by ‘cancel culture’.

Last year more than 100 high-profile cultural figures including JK Rowling, Noam Chomsky and Gloria Steinem signed an open letter which claimed the spread of ‘censoriousness’ was leading to ‘a vogue for public shaming and ostracism’.

Booker Prize-winning author Sir Salman Rushdie, 73, also voiced his fears for literature and rejected the idea that writers can only write about their own experiences.

Prue Leith, 81, revealed last year she had ‘abandoned’ her novel after falling out with the publisher ‘because they kept wanting to tell me what was politically correct’.

Singer Nick Cave, 63, also claimed a ‘refusal to engage with uncomfortable ideas’ is ‘bad religion run amuck’. 

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