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The British-Japanese author Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, and the recipient of many other awards including the Booker Prize, has surprised many in the book industry with his next book which will be a collection of lyrics for the American jazz singer Stacey Kent.

However, those who follow the author will know that Ishiguro and the singer have collaborated before and that the writer considers his lyric writing as key to his development as a novelist.  The pair first met after Ishiguro chose Kent’s recording of ‘They Can’t Take That Away from Me’ as one of his ‘Desert Island Discs’ on BBC Radio4 in 2002 and Kent subsequently asked him to write for her.

US Penguin Random House imprint Knopf has announced that Ishiguro’s next project will be The Summer We Crossed Europe in the Rain, due in March 2024, a collection of lyrics for the singer.  The pair are old friends and collaborators.  Ishiguro wrote the lyrics for a couple of the songs on Kent’s ‘Breakfast on the Morning Tram’, which in 2009 received a Grammy nomination for best jazz vocal album, and also contributed to such Kent albums as ‘Dreamer in Concert’ and ‘I Know I Dream.’

The writer said: “I’ve built a reputation over the years as a writer of stories, but I started out writing songs.” The book combines older compositions dating back to 2007 and four “cinema” works for an upcoming project with Kent.  ‘The Summer We Crossed Europe in the Rain’ also includes an introduction by Ishiguro, illustrations by the Italian artist Bianca Bagnarelli and a QR code that links to an album of Kent performing songs by the author.

Knopf Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief Jordan Pavlin said: “Kazuo Ishiguro has often said that he views the songwriting he did in his youth as an apprenticeship for his work as a novelist, and in this beguiling book of lyrics for the American jazz musician Stacy Kent one feels a variation on the haunting sorrow and hopefulness that echo through each of his novels.”

In the UK, Faber publishing director Angus Cargill, who bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Peter Straus at RCW, described it as “a fascinating companion piece to Ishiguro’s fiction”.  He describes the book as a “lyric collection that explores many of his characteristic themes – memory, love, travel, the visual and haunting qualities of music – and affords new insights into writing and artistic collaboration, through Ishiguro’s intimate introduction and the exquisite illustrations from Bianca Bagnarelli”. 

Faber will be publishing simultaneously with the US in March 2024.