Contemporary Japanese Writers

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Contemporary Japanese Writers

Contemporary Japanese Writers is a three-volume series that was compiled and published by the Japanese Literature Publishing and Promotion Center (J-Lit Center) between 2007 and 2009. Intended to help bring new Japanese writers and their works to the attention of overseas audiences, each volume introduces 50 authors with brief biographical profiles and synopses of three of their most important works. The 150 featured authors—all but a few still living and actively writing—were selected from the far greater pool of available candidates based on the literary awards they had received and their extensive backlists of titles as yet unknown outside Japan. Authors already familiar to readers abroad—the Nobel laureates Yasunari Kawabata and Kenzaburo Oe, and the much-translated Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto, for example—were intentionally excluded. The resulting lineup represents the brightest stars of contemporary Japanese literature who, though not yet widely recognized beyond our borders, appear regularly on bestseller lists and garner the greatest attention from reviewers in Japan. The volumes have been well received at book fairs around the world.

70 results for Category: Contemporary Japanese Writers
  • Shin'ichi Hoshi*

    Shin'ichi Hoshi (1926?97) was born in Tokyo. His grandfather was an anatomist, and his father founded Hoshi Pharmacological University and the pharmaceutical company Hoshi Seiyaku. Hoshi graduated from the University of Tokyo with a degree … Details

  • Shotaro Ikenami*

    Shotaro Ikenami* 池波正太郎

    Shōtarō Ikenami ( (1923–1990) ) was a seventh-generation Edokko, or child of Edo (present-day Tokyo). This background greatly influenced his writing style. Edokko refers to those who were born in the shitamachi, or the old, originally … Details

  • Natsuki Ikezawa*

    Natsuki Ikezawa* 池澤夏樹

    Natsuki Ikezawa (1945–) is the son of novelist Takehiko Fukunaga and poet Akiko Harajo, who were members of the same literary coterie. He studied physics in college before dropping out to travel around the … Details

  • Hisashi Inoue*

    Hisashi Inoue* 井上ひさし

    Hisashi Inoue (1934–2010) began his writing career while working in the production department of a strip club, creating skits for its interlude performances. While attending Sophia University, he wrote plays and radio scripts, and … Details

  • Takehiro Irokawa*

    Takehiro Irokawa* 色川武大

    Takehiro Irokawa (1929–1989) , the son of a navy captain who was a strict disciplinarian, made his relationship with his father a central theme in his work. His debut story was Kuroi nuno (Black … Details

  • Kōtarō Isaka*

    Kōtarō Isaka* 伊坂幸太郎

    Kōtarō Isaka (1971–) burst onto the mystery scene like a meteor with the publication of Ōdyubon no inori (Audubon's Prayer). Literary critics and readers were at a loss for words to describe it. … Details

  • Jun Ishikawa*

    Jun Ishikawa* 石川淳

    Jun Ishikawa (1899–1987) was born in Asakusa, a plebeian shitamachi section of Tokyo. He graduated with a degree in French literature from the Tokyo School of Foreign Languages and taught French at Keio University … Details

  • Hiroyuki Itsuki*

    Hiroyuki Itsuki* 五木寛之

    Hiroyuki Itsuki was born in 1932 in Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture, but shortly after his birth the family moved to Korea in connection with his father's work. They did not return to Japan until after the … Details

  • Kazuki Kaneshiro*

    Kazuki Kaneshiro* 金城一紀

    Kazuki Kaneshiro  (1968–) , a zainichi Korean―that is, a Japanese resident of Korean ethnicity―with a law degree from Keio University, kicked off his professional writing career in 1998 by winning the Shōsetsu Gendai Prize for … Details

  • Kenzō Kitakata*

    Kenzō Kitakata* 北方謙三

    Kenzō Kitakata  (1947–) experienced the student protest movement of the 1960s while studying law at Chuo University, during which time he also won a prize for new writers with Akarui machi e (Toward the … Details

  • Sakyō Komatsu*

    Sakyō Komatsu* 小松左京

    Sakyō Komatsu  (1931–2011) is Japan's leading writer of science fiction. In the leaping power of his imagination and the elaborateness of his technical details, he stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Arthur C. … Details

  • Taeko Kono*

    Taeko Kono* 河野多惠子

    Taeko Kōno (1926–2015) is at once the most orthodox and the most radical of all the writers who have followed in the tradition of Jun’ichirō Tanizaki. From Natsuo Kirino to Amy Yamada, the … Details

  • Chōkitsu Kurumatani*

    Chōkitsu Kurumatani  (1945–2015) , assesses critic Saburō Kawamoto, "is said to be the last modern writer of the vanishing I-novel. He sticks to this 'antiquated' form as a knowing offender." This comment in the paperback … Details

  • Hideo Levy*

    Hideo Levy* リービ英雄

    Hideo Levy (1950–) represents the rich diversity of contemporary Japanese literature. Wherever he goes, so does this copy: “The first novelist who is not a native Japanese speaker to write in Japanese.” Levy handwrites … Details

  • Saiichi Maruya*

    Saiichi Maruya* 丸谷才一

    Saiichi Maruya (1925–2012) was born in Yamagata Prefecture, grew up in Niigata, and graduated with a degree in English literature from Tokyo Imperial University. After completing his master’s degree, he taught at Kōkūgakuin … Details

  • Seicho Matsumoto*

    Seicho Matsumoto* 松本清張

    Seichō Matsumoto ( (1909–1992) ) made a relatively late literary debut, at age 42. The clarity and originality of his works soon won him many readers, and his 1958 mystery novel Ten to sen (tr. … Details

  • Shun Medoruma*

    Shun Medoruma* 目取真俊

    Shun Medoruma (1960–) is a leading contemporary writer profoundly influenced by the legacy of Okinawa, his homeland. Okinawa is like a foreign land within Japan. Occupied by the United States after World War … Details

  • Tomiko Miyao*

    Tomiko Miyao* 宮尾登美子

    Tomiko Miyao (1926–2014) received the Kikuchi Kan Prize in 2008 for continuing "to write masterpieces on the theme of women's lives in the context of Japanese traditional culture and history." That same year, a … Details

  • Haruki Murakami*

    Haruki Murakami* 村上春樹

    Haruki Murakami (1949–) enjoys a greater overseas readership than any other Japanese author today. His numerous bestsellers, variously reaching readers in over 40 different languages, can be ranked with the Sony Walkman and … Details

  • Kiyoko Murata*

    Kiyoko Murata* 村田喜代子

    Kiyoko Murata (1945–) travels effortlessly between fantasy and reality. She herself has said, "People suppose that I'm always thinking about fantastical things, but that's not the case. I'm a very realistic person." She … Details