The nominees for the 151st Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes have been announced. The prizes will be awarded on July 17th.
The Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes are usually awarded in January and July each year. The Akutagawa Prize is generally considered the biggest Japanese prize for literary fiction, while the Naoki Prize is the most prestigious for popular fiction, however you care to define either of those fairly arbitrary categories. The Akutagawa focuses on mid-length fiction by writers who are not yet well-known. Both were established in 1935 by Kikuchi Kan to honor the memories of Akutagawa Ryunosuke and Naoki Sanjugo. Anglophone readers of Japanese fiction are likely to recognize Akutagawa as the author of “Rashomon” and “The Nose”, and long-time readers of this blog may recognize Naoki.
So without further ado, here are your Akutagawa Prize nominees for July 2014:
- INUI Akito (戌井昭人) – “Moxi in Mud” (?) 「どろにやいと」（Gunzo January 2014 issue)
- KOBAYASHI Erika (小林エリカ) – “Breakfast with Madame Curie”「マダム・キュリーと朝食を」（Subaru April 2014 issue）
- SHIBASAKI Tomoka (柴崎友香) – “The Spring Garden”「春の庭」（Bungakukai June 2014 issue）
- HADA Keisuke (羽田圭介) – “Metamorphosis”「メタモルフォシス」（Shincho March 2014 issue）
- YOKOYAMA Yuta (横山悠太) – “I Am Becoming a Cat”「吾輩ハ猫ニナル」（Gunzo June 2014 issue）
The translation of the last title is difficult, as is translation of the title it riffs off of – Natsume SOSEKI’s I am a Cat (“Wagahai ha neko de aru”).
And for the Naoki Prize:
- IBUKI Yuki (伊吹有喜) – “Midnight Bus”「ミッドナイト・バス」（Bungeishunjū）
- KUROKAWA Hiroyuki (黒川博行) – “Excommunication”「破門」（Kadokawa）
- CHIHAYA Akane (千早茜) – “Male Friends”「男ともだち」（Bungeishunjū）
- NUKUI Tokurou (貫井徳郎) – “A Person Like Me”「私に似た人」（Asahi Shinbun Publishing）
- YUZUKI Asako (柚木麻子) – “Diana the Bookseller”「本屋さんのダイアナ」（Shinchosha）
- YONEZAWA Honobu (米澤穂信) – “Fulfilling Vows”「満願」（Shinchosha）
Sadly this year I haven’t read any of the nominated works, but the one I’m most interested in is YOKOYAMA Yuta’s, which has gotten some good press. Here’s the description from the Gunzo site:
A novel with a new feel “written with the assumption that the reader is a Chinese person learning Japanese.” Our protagonist, Japanese and raised in China, returns alone to Japan for visa reasons. And then something unexpected occurs…!?
The only prediction I’m willing to make: you’ll never see it translated.