January 05, 2009

Ishiguro on age

From The Guardian in 2005 -
"At 34, Ishiguro's place in the literary firmament was already secure and he felt as if he'd only just begun.

"And then I had this most alarming realisation. I looked at an encyclopaedia of literature and checked how old people were when they wrote their famous works. Pride and Prejudice was written by someone in her 20s. The Faulkner anyone remembers comes from his 30s. It goes on; Fitzgerald, Kafka, Chekhov; War and Peace, Ulysses. Dickens went on a bit longer, but his best work was when he was younger. Of course there are exceptions but often, like Conrad, who was a sailor, there is some reason why they missed out on time earlier in their lives."

He says the fact that great writers are often revered and rewarded with prizes in old age only masks the reality that time is running out. "There was this idea, which felt almost like a conspiracy, that a writer in his 30s was early in a writing life. But I realised you should think more in terms of the length and timing of a footballer's career. Your best chance of producing a decent book comes somewhere between 30 and 45 and I suddenly saw my life as a finite number of books."