川上未映子

Mieko Kawakami Biography

Mieko Kawakami

Mieko Kawakami was born in 1976 in Osaka prefecture, the second largest Japanese capital and the center of commerce and culture. Kawakami started her career as a singer songwriter before making her literary debut with the prose poem, "Sentan de sasuwa sasareruwa soraeewa" in 2006.

Her first novella My Ego Ratio, My Teeth, and the World​, published in 2007, won critical acclaim for its earnest exploration of the subject "I" through a lyrical narrative interwoven with rhythmic and poetic style. The novella was awarded the Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers (Haruki Murakami won the same prize for the established writers category in the same year).

In the following year, Kawakami published her second novella Breasts and Eggs, which dynamically explores the inner conflicts of an adolescent girl, who refuses to communicate with her mother except through writing. This work won the Akutagawa Prize (the most prestigious literary prize in Japan, previously awarded to writers such as Kobo Abe and Kenzaburo Oe) with enthusiastic support from committee members, and has been translated into Norwegian, Spanish, French, and other Asian languages.

In 2009, Kawakami published her first full-length novel, Heaven. Gaining inspiration from Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the work takes up the theme of bullying in middle school and addresses the ultimate question of good and evil. The novel won critical acclaim soon after its publication and won the Ministry of Education's Fine Arts Award for Debut Work, as well as the Murasaki Shikibu Prize (an award given to female writers). This novel established Kawakami's position in contemporary Japanese literature only three years after her debut.

In her subsequent works, Kawakami continues to address existential questions such as life, death, and sexuality, giving voice to the feeling of disorientation that people innately harbor but which often goes unexpressed. These works include the collection of short stories Dreams of Love, Etc., which won the Tanizaki Jun'ichirô Prize, and her second novel All the Lovers in the Night, a love story centering upon a female protagonist whose profession as a proofreader is central to her worldview. Her third novel Longing captures the dizzying sensations of experiencing the world through the eyes of children, shifting between the perspectives of a boy and a girl.

Alongside these works of prose fiction, Kawakami has published experimental works that combine astute thought and feminine sensibility in a heightened poetic style. Her versatility in style and genre is partly what makes her a unique writer. Her collection of prose poems Sentan de sasuwa sasareruwa soraeewa, which includes the piece that pushed her onto the literary stage, sold exceptionally well and was awarded the Nakahara Chuya Prize (one of the most prestigious prizes for Japanese poetry). Her poetic works explore experimental language and rhythm, and have received high praise for their lyricism and linguistic and philosophical diversity. Her subsequent poetic work Water Vessel (awarded the Takami Jun Prize) also received critical acclaim, and many praise her experimental works even above her novelistic achievements.

Translations

  • English

    • Fiction

      • "March Yarn"

        March Was Made of Yarn: Writers respond to Japan's Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Meltdown,
        Vintage, 2012.
        Translated by Michael Emmerich.

      • "Dreams of Love, etc."

        Monkey Business: New Writing from Japan 3 (2013).
        Translated by Hitomi Yoshio.

      • "Where Have All the Sundays Gone?"

        Special Issue: On Memory: New Japanese Writing, Words without Borders, 2015.3.
        Web. (http://wordswithoutborders.org/article/where-have-all-the-sundays-gone)
        Translated by Hitomi Yoshio.

      • "The Thirteenth Month"

        Monkey Business: New Writing from Japan 5 (2015).
        Translated by Hitomi Yoshio.

      • "About Her and the Memories that Belong to Her" – longer short story

        Granta, Issue 132: Possession, 2015.1.
        Web. (https://granta.com/memories-belong/)
        Translated by Hitomi Yoshio.

      • "Strawberry Fields Forever and Ever" – short story

        Pleiades: Literature in Context, 2016.1.
        Translated by Hitomi Yoshio.

    • Poetry

      • "A Once-Perfect Day for Bananafish"

        Monkey Business: New Writing from Japan 2 (2012).
        Reprinted in Electric Literature's Recommended Reading vol.12, no.4, April 2013.
        (http://recommendedreading.tumblr.com/post/48193002575/monkey-business- recommends-a-once-perfect-day-for)
        Translated by Hitomi Yoshio.

      • "The Little Girl Blows Up Her Pee Anxiety, My Heart Races"

        Monkey Business: New Writing from Japan 4 (2014).
        Translated by Hitomi Yoshio.

      • "The Elephant's Eye is Burning, Burning" – prose poem

        Denver Quarterly Vol.49 No.4, University of Denver, October 2015.
        Translated by Hitomi Yoshio.

    • Translations in Progress

      • "The Flower Garden" – longer short story
      • "Ice Cream Fever" – short story
      • "Breasts and Eggs" – novella
  • Chinese

    • 乳与卵 (Breasts and Eggs) – novella + short story

      上海訳文出版社, 上海, 2009.8.
      Translated by 杨伟.

    • 乳與卵 (Breasts and Eggs) – novella + short story

      木馬文化, 臺北, 2009.12.
      Translated by 劉子倩.

  • French

    • Seins et oeufs (Breasts and Eggs) – novella + short story

      Actes Sud, 2012.
      Translated by Patrick Honnoré.

    • De toutes les nuits les amants  (All the Lovers in the Night) – novel

      Actes Sud, 2014.
      Translated by Patrick Honnoré.

    • Heaven – novel

      Actes Sud​,​ 2016.
      Translated by Patrick Honnoré.

  • Italian

    • "Domenica dove?" ("Where Have All the Sundays Gone?" from Dreams of Love, Etc.) – short story

      Internazionale, 23 dicembre 2015/7 gennaio 2016 Numero 1134.

  • Korean

    • 젖과 알 (Breasts and Eggs) – novella + short story

      文学手帳, 2008.
      Translated by 권남희.

    • 헤븐 (Heaven) – novel

      비채, 2011.
      Translated by 김춘미.

  • Norwegian

    • Pupper og egg (Breasts and Eggs) – novella + short story

      BOKVENNEN FORLAG AS, 2013.
      Translated by Magne Tørring.

  • Spanish

    • Senos y huevos (Breasts and Eggs) – novella + short story

      Sd Edicions, 2013.
      Translated by Fernando Cordobés González and Yoko Ogihara.

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