25th Oda Sakunosuke Prize announced (January 9, 2009)
The 25th Oda Sakunosuke Prize will be awarded to Tamaoka Kaoru of Kakogawa City, Hyogo Prefecture, for Oyome-san (The Bride). The presentation ceremony will be held in Osaka on February 22.
39th Takami Jun Prize announced (January 12, 2009)
The 39th Takami Jun Prize has been won by Takami Hiroya for his collection Shiyō seiin (Lyrics to Sprouting Leaves, published by Shichōsha). The presentation ceremony will be held on March 13 in Tokyo.
140th Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (January 15, 2009)
The 140th Akutagawa Prize has been won by Tsumura Kikuko for Potosuraimu no fune (The Lime-Pothos Boat, published in the November issue of Gunzō). The 140th Naoki Prize will be shared by Tendō Arata, for Itamu hito (In Memoriam, published by Bungei Shunjū), Yamamoto Ken'ichi, for Rikyū ni tazuneyo (Go Ask Rikyū, published by PHP Kenkyūsho). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on February 20.
Letter and postcards written by Abe Kōbō discovered (January 18, 2009)
A letter and 18 postcards written by novelist and playwright Abe Kōbo (1924-1993) to author and critic Haniya Yutaka (1909-1997) have been discovered among materials donated to the Kanagawa Museum of Modern Literature in Yokohama by someone who was "connected to Haniya." The letter, dating from 1947, explains that Abe went to meet Haniya but was unsuccessful, and includes a letter of introduction written by Abe's high school teacher, who was an acquaintance of Haniya. The postcards make frequent mention of Abe's difficult financial circumstances at the beginning of his career. The donated materials also included the outline of a screenplay for adapting Abe's 1962 novel Woman in the Dunes to a Hollywood movie, and an unadopted version of the movie screenplay for Face of Another.
14th Nakahara Chūya Prize announced (February 14, 2009)
The 14th Nakahara Chūya Prize has been won by Kawakami Mieko for her collection Sentan de sasu wa sasareru wa sora ee wa (In the Forefront, Pointing and Being Pointed At...And That's Just Fine, published by Seidosha). Kawakami who last year also won the Akutagawa Prize for her story Breasts and Eggs. The selection committee appears to have been won over by what what judge Takahashi Gen'ichirō called a meeting of poetry and the contemporary, and some readers appear to think that some parts of the collection draws a fine line between verse and fiction. The presentation ceremony will be held in Yamaguchi City on April 29.
Death of Edwin McClellan (April 27, 2009)
Edwin McClellan, translator of Natsume Sōseki's Kokoro, among other works of modern Japanese fiction, has died of lung cancer in Connecticut. A British subject, McClellan spent most of his life in the United States, where he taught primarily at the University of Chicago and Yale. McClellan was 83 years old.
Monthly journal Kokubungaku to cease publication (May 18, 2009)
Gakutōsha, publisher of the monthly journal Kokubungaku, has announced that the journal will cease publication after the July issue (on sale June 11). The reasons given were declining sales and the general lack of interest in "pure" literature. Kokubungaku was first published in 1956.
Correspondence between Arishima Takeo and Hatano Akiko discovered (June 29, 2009)
The discovery of six letters exchanged between novelist Arishima Takeo (1878-1923) and Hatano Akiko, the married woman with whom he committed suicide, has been announced by the Hokkaido Museum of Literature in Sapporo. The letters were part of a collection of materials the museum purchased from a dealer in antiques that also included the suicide note Hatano wrote to her husband. The three letters written by Arishima, along with one of Hatano's letters, had previously been displayed but had gone missing; the text of Hatano's suicide note had also been published by her husband shortly after the double suicide. Two of the letters written by Hatano are fresh discoveries describing both her sense of guilt and her continuing devotion to Arishima. The letters and the suicide note will be on display at the Hokkaido Museum of Literature from July 1 to September 30.
Number of published copies of Murakami Haruki's 1Q81 exceeds 2 million (July 7, 2009)
Shinchōsha has announced that the number of copies it has printed of Murakami Haruki's 1Q81 has now exceeded 2 million. There are now 1.1 million copies of the first volume in print, compared with 900,000 copies for the second volume.
141st Akutagawa and Naoki Prizes announced (July 15, 2009)
The 141st Akutagawa Prize has been won by Isozaki Ken'ichirō for Tsui no sumika (A Final Home, published in the June issue of Shinchō). The 141st Naoki Prize will go to Kitamura Kaoru for Sagi to yuki (Heron and Snow, published by Bungei Shunjū). The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on August 21.
Murakami Haruki's Norwegian Wood exceeds 10 million copies printed (August 6, 2009)
The publishing company Kodansha announced that total number of printed copies of Murakami Haruki's novel Noruei no mori (Norwegian Wood) has now reached 10 million, including about 4.5 million for the two-volume hardback edition and the remainded for the paperback version. Sales of the novel have benefited substantially from the best-seller status of Murakami's 1Q81.
19th Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Literature announced (August 12, 2009)
The 19th Murasaki Shikibu Prize for Literature has been won by Kirino Natsuo for Joshinki (Record of a Goddess, published by Kadokawa Shoten). The presentation ceremony will be held in Kyoto on November 15.
45th Tanizaki Jun'ichirō Prize not awarded (August 21, 2009)
The publishing company Chūō Kōron Shinsha has announced that no work qualified to receive the Tanizaki Jun'ichirō Prize this year. The last time the prize was not awarded was 2002.
46th Literary Arts Prize announced (August 25, 2009)
The 46th Literary Arts Prize will be shared by the Ōmori Brothers, for Inu wa itsumo ashimoto ni ite (A Dog Always Underfoot), and Fujishiro Izumi, for Re:. "Ōmori Brothers " is a pen name used by an unidentified pair of brothers, one of whom is a heathcare worker and the other a company employee. The brothers wrote their book jointly, and this is the first time that the Literary Arts Prize has been won by such a "team." The winning stories will be published in the Winter issue of the journal Bungei. The presentation ceremony will be held in Tokyo on October 16.
Japan PEN Club to file objection to proposed Google Books settlement (August 28, 2009)
The Japan PEN Club, currently chaired by Atōda Takashi, has announced that it will file an objection to the proposed Google Books settlement with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The objection will be based primarily on the settlement's failure to take into account differences in legal rights between Japan and the United States, and on the lack of adequate notification in Japan.
37th Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature announced (October 16, 2009)
The 37th Izumi Kyōka Prize Prize for Literature has been won by Chihaya Akane for Uogami (Fish God, published by Shūeisha). The same story had previously received the Subaru Prize for New Writers.
House depicted by Dazai Osamu in The Setting Sun burns down (December 26, 2009)
The resort house in Kanagawa Prefecture used by Dazai Osamu as the setting for his novel The Setting Sun burned to the ground early in the norning of December 26. Dazai stayed in the house, known as the Yūzan-sō (Residence of the Stately Mountain) for several days in February 1942 when he visited his mistress, Ōta Shizuko. Their daughter, Ōta Haruko, was conceived at the time, and she spent the first three years of her life in the house. The house has been unoccupied for the last 10 years, and arson is suspected.