Hiromi Kawakami

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Hiromi Kawakami
Born (1958-04-01) April 1, 1958 (age 60)
Tokyo, Japan
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Japanese
Alma mater Ochanomizu Women's College
Period 1990–present
Genre Fiction, poetry
Notable works Tread on a Snake, The Briefcase/Strange Weather in Tokyo
Notable awards

Hiromi Kawakami (川上 弘美, Kawakami Hiromi, born 1 April 1958) is an award-winning Japanese writer known for her off-beat fiction, poetry, and literary criticism. Her work has won several prestigious Japanese literary awards, including the Akutagawa Prize and the Tanizaki Prize, and has been translated into more than 15 languages.


Kawakami was born in Tokyo, Japan. She graduated from Ochanomizu Women's College in 1980 and began writing and editing for NW-SF, a Japanese science fiction magazine.[1] Her first short story, "Sho-shimoku" ("Diptera"), appeared in NW-SF in 1980.[2] Her first book, a collection of short stories entitled Kamisama (God), was published in 1994. In 1996 Hebi wo fumi (Tread on a snake) won the Akutagawa Prize, one of Japan's most prestigious literary awards.[3] It was later translated into English under the title Record of a Night Too Brief.[4] She received another prestigious literary award, the Tanizaki Prize, in 2001 for her novel Sensei no kaban (The Briefcase or Strange Weather in Tokyo), a love story between a woman in her thirties and a man in his seventies.[5] After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, she rewrote her debut short story "Kamisama" ("God"), keeping the original plot but incorporating the events of Fukushima into the story.[6]

Writing style[edit]

Kawakami's work explores emotional ambiguity by describing the intimate details of everyday social interactions.[7] Many of her stories incorporate elements of fantasy and magical realism. Her writing has drawn comparisons to Lewis Carroll[8] and Banana Yoshimoto[9], and she has cited Gabriel García Márquez and J. G. Ballard as influences.[10] Many of her short stories, novel extracts, and essays have been translated into English, including "God Bless You" ("Kamisama")[11], "The Moon and the Batteries" (extract from Sensei no kaban)[12], "Mogera Wogura"[13], and "Blue Moon"[14].

Awards and honors[edit]

Selected works[edit]

Original publication English publication
Title Year Title Year
1994 Partial translation included in Read Real Japanese Fiction, trans. Michael Emmerich, Kodansha, ISBN 9784770030580 2008
Hebi wo fumu
1996 Record of a Night Too Brief, trans. Lucy North, Pushkin Press, ISBN 9781782272717 2017
2000 N/A N/A
Sensei no kaban
2001 The Briefcase, trans. Allison Markin Powell, Counterpoint, ISBN 9781582435992
Strange Weather in Tokyo, trans. Allison Markin Powell, Counterpoint, ISBN 9781640090163
古道具 中野商店
Furudōgu Nakano shōten
2005 The Nakano Thrift Shop, trans. Allison Markin Powell, Europa Editions, ISBN 9781609453992 2016
2006 Manazuru trans. Michael Emmerich, Counterpoint, ISBN 9781582436272 2010
Pasutamashīn no yūrei
2010 N/A N/A


  1. ^ Ashley, Mike (2007). Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-fiction Magazines from 1970 to 1980. Liverpool University Press. 
  2. ^ "Japan Society Book Club: Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami". Japan Society of the UK. March 13, 2017. Retrieved June 18, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b Flanagan, Damian (May 27, 2017). "'Record of a Night Too Brief': Hiromi Kawakami uncoils life's mysteries with an exploration of dreams". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 21, 2018. 
  4. ^ Larson, M. W. (July 19, 2017). "The Folkloric and the Fantastic: Hiromi Kawakami's "Record of a Night Too Brief"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved June 18, 2018. 
  5. ^ a b "谷崎潤一郎賞受賞作品一覧 (List of Tanizaki Prize Award Winners)". Chuo Koron Shinsha (in Japanese). Retrieved June 20, 2018. 
  6. ^ Dejima, Yukiko (September 15, 2016). "Chapter 3: Tsunamis and Earthquakes in Japanese Literature". In Karan, Pradyumna; Suganuma, Unryu. Japan after 3/11: Global Perspectives on the Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Meltdown. University Press of Kentucky. 
  7. ^ Larson, M.W. (November 27, 2017). "The Anxiety of Intimacy in Hiromi Kawakami's "The Nakano Thrift Shop"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved June 18, 2018. 
  8. ^ Kidd, James (February 9, 2017). "Japanese author Hiromi Kawakami leads us down increasingly bizarre rabbit holes". South China Morning Post. Retrieved June 18, 2018. 
  9. ^ Moloney, Iain (July 1, 2017). "'The Nakano Thrift Shop': Hiromi Kawakami furthers her exploration of form and style". The Japan Times. Retrieved June 18, 2018. 
  10. ^ Doyle, Martin (May 5, 2014). "Hiromi Kawakami briefs us on her literary life". The Irish Times. Retrieved June 17, 2018. 
  11. ^ Kawakami, Hiromi (March 20, 2012). "God Bless You". Granta. Translated by Goossen, Ted; Shibata, Motoyuki. Retrieved June 18, 2018. 
  12. ^ Kawakami, Hiromi (January 11, 2012). "The Moon and the Batteries". Granta. Translated by Markin Powell, Allison. Retrieved June 18, 2018. 
  13. ^ Kawakami, Hiromi (2005). "Mogera Wogura". Paris Review. 173. Translated by Emmerich, Michael. Archived from the original on November 1, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2018. 
  14. ^ Kawakami, Hiromi (April 24, 2014). "Blue Moon". Granta. Translated by North, Lucy. Retrieved June 18, 2018. 
  15. ^ "伊藤整文学賞". 伊藤整文学賞の会 (in Japanese). Retrieved June 21, 2018. 
  16. ^ Alison Flood (9 January 2013). "Man Asian literary prize shortlist stages Booker re-match". The Guardian. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  17. ^ Alison Flood (8 April 2014). "Knausgaard heads Independent foreign fiction prize shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 

External links[edit]