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|Revised Romanization||Yu Mi-ri|
|In Japanese: Yū Miri|
Yu was born in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, to Korean parents. After dropping out of the Kanagawa Kyoritsu Gakuen high school, she joined the Tokyo Kid Brothers (東京キッドブラザース) theater troupe and worked as an actress and assistant director. In 1986, she formed a troupe called Seishun Gogetsutō (青春五月党), and the first of several plays written by her was published in 1991.
In the early 1990s, Yu switched to writing prose. Her novels include Furu Hausu (フルハウス, "Full House", 1996), which won the Noma literary prize for best work by a new author; Kazoku Shinema (家族シネマ, "Family Cinema," 1997), which won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize; Gōrudo Rasshu (ゴールドラッシュ, "Gold Rush" 1998), which was translated into English as Gold Rush (2002); and Hachi-gatsu no Hate (8月の果て, "The End of August," 2004). She has published a dozen books of essays and memoirs, and she was an editor of and contributor to the literary quarterly "en-taxi ". Her best-selling memoir Inochi (命, "Life") was made into a movie, also titled Inochi.
Yu's first novel, a semiautobiographical work titled Ishi ni Oyogu Sakana (石に泳ぐ魚, "The Fish Swimming in the Stone") published in the September 1994 issue of the literary journal Shinchō, became the focus of a legal and ethical controversy. The model for one of the novel's main characters—and the person referred to indirectly by the title—objected to her depiction in the story. The publication of the novel in book form was blocked by court order, and some libraries restricted access to the magazine version. After a prolonged legal fight and widespread debate over the rights of authors, readers, and publishers versus individuals' rights to privacy, a revised version of the novel was published in 2002.
Yu has experienced racist backlash to her work because of her ethnic background, with some events at bookstores being canceled due to bomb threats.
After the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami Yu began to travel to the affected areas often, and from March 16, 2012, she hosted a weekly radio show called "Yu Miri no Futari to Hitori" (柳美里の二人と一人, "Yu Miri's Two People and One Person") on a temporary emergency broadcasting station called Minamisōma Hibari FM, based in Minamisōma, Fukushima.
Her book "Tokyo Ueno Station" reflects her engagement with historical memory and margins by incorporating themes of a migrant laborer from northeastern Japan and his work on Olympic construction sites in Tokyo, as well as the March 11, 2011 disaster.
She has one son.
Published in English
- Gold Rush, Welcome Rain. (2002). ISBN 1-56649-283-1. Translated by Stephen Snyder.
- Tokyo Ueno Station, Tilted Axis. (2019). ISBN 1911284169. Translated by Morgan Giles.
- Iwata-Weickgenannt, Kristina (2019). "The roads to disaster, or rewriting history from the margins—Yū Miri's JR Ueno Station Park Exit". Contemporary Japan: 1–17. doi:10.1080/18692729.2019.1578848.
- La Valse de Miri Miri Yu's official Web site (in Japanese)
- Miri Yu's unofficial blog (in Japanese)
- Miri Yu's photoblog and diary (in Japanese)
- Miri Yu's other language works list (in Japanese)
- Miri Yu at J'Lit Books from Japan (in English)
- Synopsis of Gold Rush at JLPP (Japanese Literature Publishing Project) (in English)