Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes go to Takiguchi, Motoya, Aoyama

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2016/02/12 News

Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes go to Takiguchi, Motoya, Aoyama

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Literature has announced the winners of the 154th Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes for the second half of 2015. The Akutagawa was shared by two writers: Yūshō Takiguchi for his novella Shindeinai mono (Those Who Are Not Dead, published in the December 2015 issue of Bungakukai magazine), and Yukiko Motoya for her novella Irui kon’in tan (Tales of Marriage to a Different Sort, published in the November 2015 issue of Gunzo magazine). Receiving the Naoki was Bumpei Aoyama, for his short-story collection Tsuma o metoreba (Taking a Wife, published in Bungeishunju magazine).

The prizes, which are awarded twice a year, were announced on January 19 following selection committee meetings held at their traditional location, the venerable Shin-Kiraku restaurant in Tsukiji, Tokyo.

Takiguchi, 33, first drew notice with his short story Gakki (Musical Instruments), which won the 2011 Shincho Prize for New Writers, followed by a Noma Prize for New Writers for his short-story collection Ai to jinsei (Love and Life) in 2015. This was his second Akutagawa nomination, close on the heels of one for his novella Jimi Hendorikkusu ekusuperiensu (Jimi Hendrix Experience) in the first half of 2015. Set at a family wake for a man with five children and ten grandchildren, Shindeinai mono portrays how a large cast of characters leading disparate lives bond over their mutual link to the dead.

Motoya, 36, made her debut in print in 2002 with Eriko to zettai (Absolutely with Eriko), which appeared in the magazine X+ [Ekusutasu]. Her works of fiction have won several awards: the Noma Prize for New Writers in 2011 for Nurui doku (Warm Poison), the Kenzaburo Oe Prize in 2013 for Arashi no pikunikku (The Devil’s Picnic), and the Mishima Yukio Prize in 2014 for Jibun o suki ni naru hōhō (How to Like Yourself). Irui kon’in tan, her fourth nomination for the Akutagawa Prize, is a whimsical look at the curious way in which married couples evolve from strangers into intimates, told by a housewife who finds her face starting to look exactly like her husband’s.

Aoyama, 67, won the Chuo Koron Literary Prize for New Writers in 1992 for Oretachi no suishōkyū (Our Crystal Palace), a work of fiction he published under a different name. A latecomer to the historical novel genre, he garnered the Matsumoto Seicho Prize for Shirakashi no ki no shita de (Under the Bamboo-Leafed Oak) in 2011. The second of his works nominated for the Naoki Prize, Tsuma o metoreba is a collection of six short stories that depict the hardy women of Edo-era Japan from the viewpoint of the hapless men who love them.

The 153rd Akutagawa Prize, awarded for the first half of 2015, was shared by Hibana (Sparks) by the popular comedian Naoki Matayoshi, and Sukurappu ando birudo (Scrap and Build) by Keisuke Hada, while the Naoki Prize went to Ryu (Flow) by Akira Higashiyama.