• "142nd Naoki Prize Winners Selected; No Winner for Akutagawa Prize

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    A U T H O R ' S  V O I C E
  • Vol.15: Tetsuya Abe

    R E V I E W
  • Kafu Nagai: Masked and Unmasked

  • N E W S
    "142nd Naoki Prize Winners Selected; No Winner for Akutagawa Prize

    The 142nd Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes were announced on January 14. The Naoki Prizes went to Jo Sasaki for "Asking the Ruins" (Bungei Shunju Publishing), and Kazufumi Shiraishi, author of "To No One But You" (Shodensha Publishing). For the first time in eleven years, no Akutagawa Prize was awarded.

    "Asking the Ruins" is a popular novel about a detective, Sendo, currently in recuperation at home. Having been placed on temporary suspension and stripped of his badge and gun, he takes advantage of his free time to investigate criminal cases. Sasaki, a writer of detective novels which feature policemen or detectives as protagonists, is extremely popular. The film adaptation of his novel "The Laughing Policeman, " published in 2004, was released in the fall of 2009.

    Shiraishi, whose late father Ichiro Shiraishi was the 1987 recipient of the Naoki Prize, is the first second-generation prize winner. Ichiro was opposed to his son becoming a writer. Kazufumi's prize-winning work "To No One But You" is a straight-forward romance novel centered around the themes of men, women, and destiny.

    * Some of the book titles are tentative translations. Copyright © 2010 TranNet all rights reserved.
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    July 8 - 11, 2010


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    interview with
    Tetsuya Abe

    When managing relationships among people in the workplace, "leadership" is an issue which cannot be ignored. Among the many important business skills of a leader, recognizing individuals with the most ability, as well as the capacity to be flexible in adapting to changing times, must be considered two of the most essential skills.    Read More

    R E V I E W

    "Kafu Nagai: Masked and Unmasked" Edited by Teruhiko Tsuge

    In brief, this book analyzes the many sides of Kafu Nagai from six perspectives: "Kafu the toiler," "Kafu the explorer," "Kafu the man of letters," "Kafu the protestor," "Kafu the esthetic," and "Kafu the comic writer." Teruhiko Tsuge is responsible for the editing, commentary and annotation of Kafu's controversial work, "Behind the Paper Doors of the Four and a Half Mat Room." All would certainly agree that the highlight of this study is the intensity of the special defender's closing argument in the court trial over "Behind the Paper Doors of the Four and a Half Mat Room," which has been transcribed verbatim.* Still, what first caught my eye was that Tsuge's name as editor was not even included among the list of twenty six writers. The table of contents gives the chapter titles, while the writers are listed at the end of the book, but the fact that not one name appears in the table of contents is rather unusual. This book is more than simply a collection of essays; it is a united effort by twenty six writers to incorporate a message about "Kafu."

    As for the subheading of the book "masked and unmasked," Tsuge writes, "the real image behind the mask is threatening," but this is little more than a catchphrase used to promote the book. For Kafu, the relationship between "masked" and "unmasked" was not a simple one. In the introduction to the book, Tsuge himself poses the question, "Which Kafu is the real Kafu?" and then responds, "Each one of them exists within him," but declares that "there is no particular meaning." But if the "real Kafu" has no particular meaning, then what in the world is the book trying to say about Kafu? Tsuge defines this as "countenance." This precise word is based on the delicate relationship which he feels exists between the "masked" and the "unmasked," and the concept of the book is simply "an examination of the various countenances of Kafu." The overall structure of the work - in which the number of pages allocated to each writer has been severely limited - intentionally mixes passionate prose in the introductory outline of main points, with more concentrated writing of an academic flavor. Rather than aiming to topple the framework of cliche expressions such as "isolation," "rebelliousness," and "comic writer," the book focuses on Kafu the wayfarer (not traveler) in order to develop a valuable map of Kafu's personality, and herein lies the strength of the book.

    As this year marks the fifty-year anniversary of Kafu's death, it is hoped that this compilation will be favorably received as a work of significance.

    Chinami Takada           

    Kafu Nagai: Masked and Unmasked
    Edited by Teruhiko Tsuge, published by Shibundo

    * Some of the book titles are tentative translations.

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