Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes go to Oyamada, Asai, Himeno

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2014/01/21 News

Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes go to Oyamada, Asai, Himeno

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Literature has announced the winners of the 150th Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes, awarded for the second half of 2013. The Akutagawa was given to Hiroko Oyamada for her novella Ana (The Hole, published in the September 2013 issue of Shinchō magazine). Two writers received the Naoki: Makate Asai for her novel Renka (Love Poem, published by Kodansha) and Kaoruko Himeno for her novel Shōwa no inu (Dog in the Era of Showa, published by Gentōsha). The prizes were announced on January 16 following selection committee meetings held, as in previous years, at Shin-Kiraku restaurant in Tsukiji, Tokyo.

A first-time Akutagawa nominee, Oyamada made her literary debut in Shinchō with the story Kōjō (Factory), which garnered the 2010 Shinchō Prize for New Writers. Her first book, also titled Kōjō (published by Shinchōsha) and containing the title work and two others, won the 2013 Oda Sakunosuke Prize. Ana portrays the anxieties of contemporary Japanese women through its protagonist, a woman who has to quit her office job to become a fulltime housewife when her husband gets a job transfer.

Asai’s debut as a novelist, Mi sae hana sae (Whether Fruit or Flower), earned her the Shōsetsu Gendai Encouragement Prize for New Writers in 2008. Renka?her first historical novel, and her first work to be nominated for the Naoki Prize?examines the travails of women swept up in the turmoil at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate as seen through the eyes of the poet Utako Nakajima (1844-1903).

Himeno, a published writer since 1990, has been nominated for the Naoki Prize five times. Her winning effort, a first-person narrative, tells of a girl much like the author herself growing up in sixties-era Japan and enduring family troubles with the help of her pet dog.