Kyōko Nakajima

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Kyōko Nakajima

Kyōko Nakajima 中島京子

Kyōko Nakajima (1964–)  loved books from a young age, which is perhaps no surprise given that her parents are both translators and scholars of French literature. She first produced something like a novel when she was in middle school, although her professional debut did not come until many years and twists later. Joining a publishing company after college, she then quit and studied in the United States for a year before becoming a freelance writer and turning back to fiction. In 2003 Nakajima found a publisher for her debut work, Futon, a novel based on the modern classic of the same title by Katai Tayama. She won the Naoki Prize in 2010 for Chiisai ouchi (The Little House), the Izumi Kyōka Prize in 2014 for Tsuma ga shiitake datta koro (When My Wife Was a Shiitake), and in 2015 took both the Chuo Koron Literary Prize for Nagai owakare (A Long Goodbye) and the Shibata Renzaburō Award for Katazuno! (One Horn!), her first historical novel. Other works in her oeuvre include Itō no koi (Itō’s Love, 2005), which takes inspiration from the 19th-century British travel writer Isabella Bird; Heisei dai-kazoku (One Big Family in the Heisei Era, 2008), about a modern-day family of eight spread over four generations; and the pastiche Pasutīsu: Otona no Arisu to Sangatsu Usagi no ochakai (Pastis: A Grown-Up Alice and the March Hare Have Tea). A serious writer well grounded in literary history, Nakajima is also a master of style and technique who never lets the reader’s attention flag.

Books by Kyōko Nakajima
  • Book

    The Little House

    A little house with a red gabled roof on a suburban Tokyo hilltop is the setting of this novel, which unfolds in the period from the early 1930s to Japan's defeat in World War II. The narrative takes the form of a memoir penned by the housekeeper, Taki, w …

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    A Long Goodbye

    After a career as a middle-school teacher and principal, the retired Shōhei Higashi begins showing signs of dementia in his seventies. Eight linked stories trace the challenges he, his wife, and their three daughters face over the next ten years, until h …

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    One Horn!

    Set in the final years of Japan’s turbulent Sengoku period (c. 1467?1603) and the first few decades of the Edo era (1603?1867), the story portrays the life of a minor feudal lord’s wife who steps forward to save her domain in its time of crisis follow …

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    Twelve Chapters on Her

    A woman who has recently passed the half-century mark reflects on her life and relationships in the course of several unexpected events involving her and her 24-year-old son. The story that spans from June until the end of March is ingeniously structured …

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