Japanese stories captivated overseas audiences in 2022

In a recent conversation about Japanese literature, translator Yuki Tejima, who runs the book-focused Instagram account @booknerdtokyo, told me, “Women have always had a place in the literary world and they’ve always been widely read, but now there is a new generation of writers with really strong voices.” This sentiment was reflected in 2022, when Japanese women writers received awards for their work both domestically and abroad.

Although women writers are not the only winners of the country’s top literary awards this year, there was a notable achievement this summer: all five nominees shortlisted for the biennial Akutagawa Prize were women, for the first time since prestigious literary prize for up-and-coming authors, established in 1935. Junko Takase eventually won for her novel “Oishii Gohan ga Taberaremasu Yoni” (roughly translated as “I want to be able to eat delicious food”), which Japan Times culture critic Thu-Huong wrote to Ha as a “sinister commentary on feminism and social currency.” described deceptively burned into topics about food and office politics.

Meanwhile, Misumi Kubo’s collection of five short stories “Yoru ni Hoshi o Hanatsu” (translated “Releasing Stars into the Night Sky”) won the Naoki Prize for Popular Fiction, for which four women and one man were nominated.

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