Akutagawa Prize

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Akutagawa Prize

Officially called the Akutagawa Ryunosuke Prize, this award was established in 1935 at the same time as the Naoki Prize by Kan Kikuchi (18881948), founder of the magazine Bungei shunju, in memory of his friend the writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa (18921927), who had played a major role in the success of the magazine. Kikuchi funded the prize with his own money.

In principle, the prize is awarded to an individual winner twice a year, but the prize committee may also determine there to be no winner or declare two winners at once. Awards were suspended for a number of years at the end of and following World War II, but have otherwise continued without interruption.

The prize goes to a short to mid-length work of literary fiction by "an unknown or little-known new author," and is intended to serve as a springboard for the author's career. Approximately 100 works are considered in each six-month period, with five or six titles placed on a short list to be evaluated by a prize committee made up of veteran authors. The media attention surrounding the twice-yearly joint announcements of the Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes far surpasses that accorded any other prize. For writers of literary fiction it is literally a career-making prize.