Yōko Ogawa

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Yōko Ogawa
Born (1962-03-30) March 30, 1962 (age 52)
Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, Japan
Occupation Novelist, Short story writer, Essayist
Nationality Japanese
Period 1980–present
Notable works The Housekeeper and the Professor, Pregnancy Diary
Notable awards Akutagawa Prize
In this Japanese name, the family name is "Ogawa".

Yōko Ogawa (小川 洋子 Ogawa Yōko?, born March 30, 1962) is a Japanese writer.

Background and education[edit]

Ogawa was born in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, graduated from Waseda University, and lives in Ashiya, Hyōgo, with her husband and son.


Since 1988, Ogawa has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. In 2006 she co-authored "An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics" with Masahiko Fujiwara, a mathematician, as a dialogue on the extraordinary beauty of numbers.

Kenzaburō Ōe has said, "Yoko Ogawa is able to give expression to the most subtle workings of human psychology in prose that is gentle yet penetrating."[1] The subtlety in part lies in the fact that Ogawa's characters often seem not to know why they are doing what they are doing. She works by accumulation of detail, a technique that is perhaps more successful in her shorter works; the slow pace of development in the longer works requires something of a deus ex machina to end them. The reader is presented with an acute description of what the protagonists, mostly but not always female, observe and feel and their somewhat alienated self-observations, some of which is a reflection of Japanese society and especially women's roles within it. The tone of her works varies, across the works and sometimes within the longer works, from the surreal, through the grotesque and the —sometimes grotesquely— humorous, to the psychologically ambiguous and even disturbing. (Hotel Iris, one of her longer works, is more explicit sexually than her other works and is also her most widely translated.)

A film in French, L'Annulaire (The Ringfinger), based in part on Ogawa's Kusuriyubi no hyōhon (薬指の標本), was released in France in June 2005. Her novel The Housekeeper and the Professor was made into the movie The Professor's Beloved Equation.

Awards and honors[edit]

Works in English translation[edit]

  • The Man Who Sold Braces (Gibusu o uru hito, ギブスを売る人, 1998); translated by Shibata Motoyuki, Manoa, 13.1, 2001.
  • Transit (Toranjitto, トランジット, 1996); translated by Alisa Freedman, Japanese Art: The Scholarship and Legacy of Chino Kaori, special issue of Review of Japanese Culture and Society, vol. XV (Center for Inter-Cultural Studies and Education, Josai University, December 2003): 114-125. ISSN 0913-4700
  • The Cafeteria in the Evening and a Pool in the Rain (Yūgure no kyūshoku shitsu to ame no pūru, 夕暮れの給食室と雨のプール, 1991); translated by Stephen Snyder, The New Yorker, 9/2004. read
  • Pregnancy Diary (Ninshin karendā, 妊娠カレンダー, 1991); translated by Stephen Snyder, The New Yorker, 12/2005. read
  • The Diving Pool: Three Novellas (Daibingu puru, ダイヴィング・プール, 1990; Ninshin karendā, 妊娠カレンダー, 1991; Dormitory, ドミトリイ, 1991); translated by Stephen Snyder, New York: Picador, 2008. ISBN 0-312-42683-6
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor (Hakase no ai shita sūshiki, 博士の愛した数式, 2003); translated by Stephen Snyder, New York : Picador, 2008. ISBN 0-312-42780-8
  • Hotel Iris (Hoteru Airisu, ホテル・アイリス, 1996)
  • Revenge, Translated by Stephen Snyder, Picador, 2013

Other works[edit]

Most frequently translated (though not yet in English)
  • The Ring Finger (Kusuriyubi no hyōhon, 薬指の標本, 1994; available in French, German, Greek, Italian)
  • Love in the Margin (Yohaku no ai, 余白の愛, 1991; available in French, German, Polish)
  • The Museum of Silence (Chinmoku hakubutsukan, 沈黙博物館, 2000; available in French, German, Polish)
Other works (some translated to French)
  • Kanpeki na byōshitsu, 完璧な病室, 1989
  • Agehachō ga kowareru toki, 揚羽蝶が壊れる時, 1989, Kaien Prize
  • Same nai kōcha, 冷めない紅茶, 1990
  • Shugā taimu, シュガータイム, 1991
  • Angelina Sano Motoharu to 10 no tanpen, アンジェリーナ―佐野元春と10の短編, 1993
  • Yōsei ga mai oriru yoru, 妖精が舞い下りる夜, 1993
  • Hisoyaka na kesshō, 密やかな結晶, 1994
  • Rokukakukei no shō heya, 六角形の小部屋, 1994
  • Anne Furanku no kioku, アンネ・フランクの記憶, 1995
  • Shishū suru shōjo, 刺繍する少女, 1996
  • Yasashī uttae, やさしい訴え, 1996
  • Kōritsui ta kaori, 凍りついた香り, 1998
  • Kamoku na shigai, midara na tomurai, 寡黙な死骸みだらな弔い, 1998
    • in German: Das Ende des Bengalischen Tigers. Ein Roman in elf Geschichten. Liebeskind, München 2011. ISBN 978-3-935890-75-5.
  • Fukaki kokoro no soko yori, 深き心の底より, 1999
  • Gūzen no shukufuku, 偶然の祝福, 2000
  • Mabuta, まぶた, 2001
  • Kifujin A no sosei, 貴婦人Aの蘇生, 2002
  • Burafuman no maisō, ブラフマンの埋葬, 2004, Izumi Kyōka Prize
  • Yo ni mo utsukushī sūgaku nyūmon, 世にも美しい数学入門, 2005 (An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics)
  • Inu no shippo o nade nagara, 犬のしっぽを撫でながら, 2006
  • Otogibanashi no wasuremono, おとぎ話の忘れ物, 2006 (illustrated)
  • Mīna no kōshin, ミーナの行進, 2006 (illustrated), Tanizaki Prize
  • Umi, 海 2006
  • Hajimete no bungaku Ogawa Yōko, はじめての文学 小川洋子 2007
  • Ogawa Yōko taiwa shū, 小川洋子 対話集, 2007 (conversations)
  • Monogatari no yakuwari, 物語の役割, 2007
  • Hakase no hondana, 博士の本棚, 2007
  • Yoake no fuchi wo samayou hitobito, 夜明けの縁をさ迷う人々, 2007
  • Kagaku no tobira wo nokku suru, 科学の扉をノックする, 2008
  • Neko wo idaite zou to oyogu, 猫を抱いて象と泳ぐ, 2009
  • Kokoro to hibikiau dokusho annai, 心と響き合う読書案内, 2009
  • Karā hiyoko to kōhīmame, カラーひよことコーヒー豆, 2009
  • Genkou reimai nikki, 原稿零枚日記, 2010
  • Hitojichi no roudokukai, 人質の朗読会, 2011
  • Saihate ākēdo, 最果てアーケード, 2012
  • Kotori, ことり, 2012


  1. ^ "The Diving Pool: Three Novellas". Macmillan Publishers. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Biographie de Yôko Ogawa". Evene (in French). Le Figaro. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  3. ^ Alison Flood (8 April 2014). "Knausgaard heads Independent foreign fiction prize shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 

External links[edit]