Kanako Nishi (author)

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Kanako Nishi
Native name
西 加奈子
Born (1977-05-07) May 7, 1977 (age 41)
Tehran, Iran
OccupationNovelist, essayist, artist
Alma materKansai University
Notable works
  • Tsūtenkaku (通天閣)
  • Fukuwarai (ふくわらい)
  • Saraba! (サラバ!)
Notable awards
Kanako Nishi Official Website

Kanako Nishi (西 加奈子, Nishi Kanako, born May 7, 1977) is a Japanese writer and artist. She has won the Oda Sakunosuke Prize, the Kawai Hayao Literary Prize, and the Naoki Prize, and several of her books have been adapted for film.

Early life and education[edit]

Kanako Nishi was born in Tehran, Iran on May 7, 1977.[1] Her family moved back to Japan at age 2, but her father's job took them away from Japan again to Cairo, Egypt when she was 7 years old.[2] The Nishi family stayed in Cairo for four years, then returned to Izumi, Osaka. She later drew on this experience in creating the main character in her bestselling novel Saraba![3] Nishi attended junior high and high school in Izumi municipal schools.[4] After high school, she attended Kansai University in Osaka.[1]


At the age of 26, Nishi lied to her parents about getting a job in Tokyo, and left Osaka to pursue her dream of writing professionally.[5] Her first book, the short story collection Aoi (Blue), was published in 2004. She has since published over 20 books, including novels, essay collections, short story collections, and illustrated children's books.

In 2006 Nishi's novel Tsūtenkaku (Tower to Heaven) won the Oda Sakunosuke Prize, which is named for the Buraiha writer Sakunosuke Oda.[6] That same year Kanako's novel Kiiroi zou (きいろいゾウ, Yellow Elephant), a story about a long-married couple who receive a mysterious letter that leads them to revisit the history of their relationship, was published by Shogakukan. It was later adapted into the 2013 film Kiiroi Zou, starring Aoi Miyazaki and Osamu Mukai.[7] In 2011 her novel Entaku (円卓, The Round Table), about the daily life of an elementary school girl who prefers to be alone, was published by Bungeishunjū. It was later adapted into a 2014 Isao Yukisada film starring Mana Ashida and Ryuhei Maruyama.[8]

Nishi won the 152nd Naoki Prize in 2015 for her novel Saraba! (So long!), which drew heavily on her childhood experiences in its portrayal of a male protagonist born in Iran who overcomes hardships while moving between Egypt and Japan.[9] Saraba! drew particular praise from the committee members for its unorthodox style and language.[10] In 2016 her novel Makuko (まくこ), about an elementary school boy whose friendship with a new transfer student leads to his discovery of a big secret, was published by Fukuinkan Shoten. The novel was adapted into a 2019 film for Nikkatsu by screenwriter and director Keiko Tsuruoka, with Hikaru Yamazaki and Ninon in the lead roles.[11]

Writing style[edit]

Nishi's characters frequently use Osaka-ben, the distinctive Japanese dialect common in Osaka and surrounding cities. She often writes words in hiragana rather than kanji to allow multiple interpretations, and for aesthetic effect.[12] Her English translator, Allison Markin Powell, has said that Nishi's writing is "deceptively simple yet beautiful", and that it "establishes an immediate intimacy with her characters."[13] Her work addresses issues in "religion, individualism, and society", especially during times of upheaval and disaster.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Nishi started reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison as a first-year high school student and has preferred reading foreign authors ever since. Her favorite author is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.[12] Nishi is a fan of professional wrestling, particularly New Japan Pro-Wrestling.[15]


  • 2006 Oda Sakunosuke Prize for Tsūtenkaku (Tower to Heaven)[6]
  • 2012 Kawai Hayao Literary Prize for Fukuwarai (Funny Face)[16]
  • 2015 152nd Naoki Prize (2014下) for Saraba! (So Long!)[9]

Films and other adaptations[edit]

  • Kiiroi Zou (Yellow Elephant), 2013[17]
  • Entaku: Kokko, Hitonatsu no Imagine (The Round Table), 2014[18]
  • Makuko, 2019[11]


Books in Japanese[edit]


  • Aoi, Shogakukan, 2004, ISBN 9784093861373
  • Sakura, Shogakukan, 2005, ISBN 9784093861472
  • Kiiroi zou, Shogakukan, 2006, ISBN 9784093861625
  • Tsūtenkaku, Chikuma Shobo, 2006, ISBN 9784480803993
  • Shizuku, Kobunsha, 2007, ISBN 9784334925444
  • Koufuku midori no, Shogakukan, 2008, ISBN 9784093862066
  • Mado no sakana, Shinchosha, 2008, ISBN 9784103070412
  • Utsukushii hito, Gentosha, 2009, ISBN 9784344016347
  • Kiriko ni tsuite, Kadokawa, 2009, ISBN 9784048739313
  • Enjō suru kimi, Kadokawa, 2010, ISBN 9784048740579
  • Shiroi shirushi, Shinchosha, 2010, ISBN 9784103070429
  • Entaku, Bungeishunju, 2011, ISBN 9784163299808
  • Gyokō no Nikuko-chan, Gentosha, 2011, ISBN 9784344020498
  • Chika no hato, Bungeishunju, 2011, ISBN 9784163810607
  • Fukuwarai, Asahi Shimbun, 2012, ISBN 9784022509987
  • Furu, Kawade Shobo Shinsha, 2012, ISBN 9784309021485
  • Butai, Kodansha, 2014, ISBN 9784062187084
  • Saraba!, Shogakukan, 2014, ISBN 9784093863926 (vol. 1) ISBN 9784093863933 (vol. 2)
  • Makuko, Fukuinkan Shoten, 2016, ISBN 9784834082388
  • i, Popurasha, 2016, ISBN 9784591153093

Illustrated books[edit]


Selected work in translation[edit]

  • "Fear of Manners," English trans. Allison Markin Powell, Words Without Borders, May 2017 issue.[19]


  1. ^ a b 文藝年鑑2008年 (Literary Yearbook 2008) (in Japanese). Shinchosha. 2008. ISBN 9784107500342.
  2. ^ Nishi, Kanako (November 16, 2015). "パリ (Paris)". Fifty Storms (in Japanese). Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  3. ^ "Authors: Kanako Nishi". Books from Japan. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  4. ^ 野里, 和宏 (March 1, 2015). "和泉市立光明台中学校 野里 和宏校長先生" (in Japanese). Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  5. ^ "超保守的な生き方を、小説がポイした". Senka (in Japanese). Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "織田作之助賞受賞". Osaka Literature Promotion Institute (in Japanese). Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  7. ^ "宮崎あおいと向井理が夫婦役で初共演、西加奈子原作の映画『きいろいゾウ』". Cinra.net (in Japanese). October 10, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  8. ^ "西加奈子×行定勲『円卓』で芦田愛菜が関西弁の偏屈ヒロインに、共演に関ジャニ丸山ら". Cinra.net (in Japanese). May 22, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Ono wins Akutagawa literary award; Nishi wins Naoki Prize". The Japan Times. January 16, 2015. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  10. ^ "作家・林真理子さん「読後に青空が広がる小説」". Sankei News (in Japanese). January 15, 2015. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "草彅剛が父親役、西加奈子原作『まく子』実写映画化 主演は14歳の山崎光". Cinra.net (in Japanese). May 16, 2018. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Komai, Aiko (February 7, 2013). "Multiple Meanings: Author Kanako Nishi Talks about Her Novels and the Stories Behind Them". The Daily Yomiuri.
  13. ^ Bartholomew, Reid (August 22, 2017). "Reflecting the Possibilities in Translation: A Conversation with Allison Markin Powell". World Literature Today. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  14. ^ Markin Powell, Allison (November 10, 2016). "10 Japanese Books by Women We'd Love to See in English". Literary Hub. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  15. ^ "西加奈子さん「プロレスからむちゃくちゃ勇気をいただいてます」". Sankei Shimbun (in Japanese). January 16, 2015. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  16. ^ "第1回河合隼雄物語賞の授賞式が行われました". Kawai Hayao Foundation (in Japanese). July 5, 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  17. ^ "きいろいゾウ". 映画.com (in Japanese). Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  18. ^ "円卓 こっこ、ひと夏のイマジン". 映画.com (in Japanese). Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  19. ^ Nishi, Kanako (May 1, 2017). "Fear of Manners". Translated by Markin Powell, Allison. Retrieved June 15, 2018.