The Daily Manila Shimbun


Japan’s Tawada Wins Prestigious Literature Award in U.S.

November 16, 2018

Tokyo--The English version of "Kentoshi," or "The Emissary," a work by Japanese writer Yoko Tawada, has won the U.S. National Book Award for Translated Literature.

The National Book Awards are one of the most distinguished literature prizes in the United States. Winners of this year's awards were announced on Wednesday local time.

Tawada, 58, who now lives in Germany, expressed joy at her winning of the award, in talks with reporters at Waseda University in Tokyo on Thursday.

"I take my winning of the award as a message that it is necessary to look at the world at a time when the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump takes a stance of not giving consideration to other countries under his 'America First' policy," she said.

Kentoshi, a dystopian novel, depicts an elderly man and his great-grandchild living in a difficult situation in Japan after a catastrophe that looks like the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960. She moved to Germany after graduating from Waseda University.

She writes in Japanese and German. Tawada was awarded the Akutagawa Prize, a prestigious literature award in Japan, in 1993 for "Inumukoiri (The Bridegroom Was a Dog)". In 2011, she won the Noma Literary Prize, also an award in Japan, for "Yuki no Renshusei" (Trainee of Snow).

Tawada received the Kleist Prize in 2016, becoming the first Japanese given the German prize.

According to Kodansha, which published the Japanese version of Kentoshi, the National Book Award for translation was suspended after running from 1967 to 1983.

The translated literature section was newly established this year, now covering both fiction and nonfiction works.

In 1982, the translated literature award was given to "In the Shade of Spring Leaves," a translated version of "Takekurabe" of Higuchi Ichiyo, a 19th-century Japanese female author, and to "The Ten Thousand Leaves," a translation of "Manyoshu," a collection of ancient Japanese poetry. Jiji Press