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
  • 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

  • Kenji Nakagami*

    Kenji Nakagami* 中上健次

    Kenji Nakagami (1946–1992) was born in the city of Shingū in Wakayama Prefecture. He went to Tokyo at 19 and worked as a manual laborer while also becoming a contributing member to the … Details

  • Kaho Nakayama*

    Kaho Nakayama* 中山可穂

    Kaho Nakayama (1960–) has continued to write lesbian romances ever since she made her literary debut with a public declaration of her homosexuality. The unorthodox nature of her work has not damaged her high … Details

  • Kei Nakazawa*

    Kei Nakazawa* 中沢けい

    Kei Nakazawa started her writing career while still in college with the publication of Umi o kanjiru toki (When I Sense the Sea), which won the Gunzo New Writers Prize. She was only eighteen at … Details

  • Kyōtarō Nishimura*

    Kyōtarō Nishimura* 西村京太郎

    Kyōtarō Nishimura (1930–) first went to work during the Occupation for the Temporary National Personnel Commission, which later became the National Personnel Authority, a government board that advises the prime minister on pay … Details

  • Ishin Nishio*

    Ishin Nishio* 西尾維新

    Ishin Nishio is a novelist who has been bringing about a revolutionary transformation to Japan's entertainment novels since 2000. While Nishio's novels seem to adopt the trends set by shinhonkakuwriters (serious mystery writers who debuted between … Details

  • Asa Nonami*

    Asa Nonami* 乃南アサ

    Asa Nonami (1960–) uses the mystery genre to write stories that probe deep into the human heart. After dropping out of the sociology department of Waseda University, Nonami went to work for an advertising … Details

  • Akiyuki Nosaka*

    Akiyuki Nosaka* 野坂昭如

    Born in Kamakura in 1930, Akiyuki Nosaka was adopted immediately into the Harimaya family in Kobe. In 1945, his adoptive father died in an air raid, and in 1947 he was placed in a Tokyo … Details

  • Minako Oba*

    Minako Oba* 大庭みな子

    Minako Ōba ( (1930–2007) ) expresses ideas that are “nothing short of cosmic,” says literary critic Masashi Miura in a review in the Mainichi shimbun, September 23, 2007. In her works, people are just one … Details

  • Kenzaburō Ōe*

    Kenzaburō Ōe* 大江健三郎

    Kenzaburō Ōe (1935–) received Japan’s second Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994, following in the footsteps of Yasunari Kawabata (1899?1972), who was honored in 1968. In awarding Ōe the prize, the Nobel Committee aptly … Details

  • Kazumi Saeki*

    Kazumi Saeki* 佐伯一麦

    Kazumi Saeki  (1959–) went to Tokyo from his native Sendai on graduating from high school, continuing to write while gaining experience at a variety of jobs from magazine editor to electrician. After his novel … Details

  • Hiroshi Sakagami*

    Hiroshi Sakagami was born in Tokyo in 1936. In 1954 he entered Keio University to study literature and the following year, at the age of nineteen, published Musuko to koibito(Son and lover) in Mita Bungaku … Details

  • Kiyoshi Shigematsu*

    Kiyoshi Shigematsu  (1963–) writes works that are unique for their “practicality,” according to literary critic Minako Saitō. While Saitō is known for her acerbic tongue, her comment is meant to be neither disparaging nor … Details