Fujino and Sakuragi garner Akutagawa, Naoki Prizes

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2013/07/18 News

Fujino and Sakuragi garner Akutagawa, Naoki Prizes

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Literature has announced the winners of the 149th Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes, awarded for the first half of 2013. The Akutagawa went to Kaori Fujino (1980?) for her novella Tsume to me (Nails and Eyes; to be published by Shinchosha), while the Naoki was awarded to Shino Sakuragi (1965?) for her short story collection Hotel Royal, published by Shueisha.

The two prizes were announced on July 17 following selection committee meetings held, as in previous years, at the famed Shin-Kiraku restaurant in Tsukiji, Tokyo. The presentation ceremony for both awards will take place in Tokyo in mid-August. Each winner will receive a cash prize of one million yen.

This is the second Akutagawa Prize nomination for Fujino, who won the Bungakukai Prize for New Writers in 2006 for her short story Iyashii tori (A Crude Bird), published by Bungeishunju. Tsume to me masterfully employs a second-person narrative in a quiet buildup of psychological tension as it scrutinizes the behavior and emotions of a father's lover through the eyes of the man's three-year-old daughter. At the press conference where the two prizes were announced, Fujino said, "Receiving this prize doesn't seem real. It has taken me a long time to reach the point where I could apply an unusual technique like second-person narration."

Sakuragi, likewise a second-time nominee for the Naoki Prize, received the 2002 All Yomimono Prize for New Writers for her short story Yukimushi (Snow Bugs), published by Bungeishunju. Hotel Royal is a linked series of seven short stories that take place at a love hotel in northern Japan. At the press conference Sakuragi said, "I wrote this work in the belief that there was at least one line of prose that only I could write. I'm glad I didn't give up on it.”