Yūko Tsushima

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Satoko Tsushima
Native name
BornMarch 30, 1947
Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan
DiedFebruary 18, 2016(2016-02-18) (aged 68)
Pen name津島 佑子 (Tsushima Yūko)
Alma materShirayuri Women's University
Notable works
  • Hikari no ryōbun (光の領分)
  • Kusa no Fushido (草の臥所)
  • Hi no yama – yamazaruki (火の山―山猿記)
Notable awards

Satoko Tsushima (30 March 1947 – 18 February 2016), known by her pen name Yūko Tsushima (津島 佑子 Tsushima Yūko), was a Japanese fiction writer, essayist and critic.[1] Tsushima won many of Japan's top literary prizes in her career, including the Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature, the Noma Literary New Face Prize, the Noma Literary Prize, the Yomiuri Prize and the Tanizaki Prize. The New York Times called Tsushima "one of the most important writers of her generation."[2] Her work has been translated into over a dozen languages.[3]

Early life[edit]

Tsushima was born in Mitaka, Tokyo. Her father was famed novelist Osamu Dazai, who committed suicide when she was one year old.[4] She later drew on the aftermath of this experience in writing her short story "The Watery Realm."[5]


While attending Shirayuri Women's University she published her first fiction. At age 24 she published her first collection of stories, Carnival (Shaniku-sai). A prolific writer, she was the winner of several literary prizes.[6] In 1972 her story "Pregnant with a Fox" ("Kitsune wo haramu") was a runner-up for the Akutagawa Prize. She was awarded the Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature in 1977 for Kusa no Fushido (Bedchamber of Grass),[7] and the first annual Noma Literary New Face Prize for Hikari no ryōbun (The Family) in 1979.[8] In 1983 she was awarded the Kawabata Yasunari Literature Prize for her short story "Danmari ichi" ("The Silent Traders"),[9] and in 1986 she won the Yomiuri Prize for her novel Yoru no hikari ni owarete (Driven by the Light of the Night).[10] In 1998 she was awarded the 34th Tanizaki Prize and the 51st Noma Literary Prize for her novel Hi no yama – yamazaruki (Mountain of Fire: Account Of A Wild Monkey).[11][8] In 2002 she won the Osaragi Jiro Prize for Warai ookami (Laughing Wolf).[12]

Writing style[edit]

Tsushima's work is often characterized as feminist, though she did not apply this label to her own work.[13][14][15] Her writing explores the lives of marginalized people, usually women, who struggle for control of their own lives against societal and family pressures.[14][16] She has cited Tennessee Williams as a literary influence.[17] Unlike many of her contemporaries, whose writing about women tended to assume a nuclear family, Tsushima wrote about women who had been abandoned by family members.[18] Her stories, several of which draw on her own experience as a single mother,[17][19] focus on the psychological impact of abandonment on those left behind.[5][20]

Works translated into English[edit]

  • Child of Fortune (寵児, Chōji, 1978) (translation by Geraldine Harcourt)
  • Territory of Light (光の領分, Hikari no ryōbun, 1979) (translation by Geraldine Harcourt)
  • Woman Running in the Mountains (山を走る女, Yama wo hashiru onna, 1980) (translation by Geraldine Harcourt)
  • The Shooting Gallery & Other Stories (射的ほか短編集, 1973–1984) (translation by Geraldine Harcourt)
  • A sensitive season (発情期)
  • South wind (南風)
  • The silent traders (黙市)
  • The chrysanthemum beetle (菊虫)
  • Missing (行方不明)
  • The shooting gallery (射的)
  • Clearing the thickets (草叢)
  • An embrace (抱擁)
  • Laughing Wolf (笑い狼, Warai Okami, 2001) (Michigan Monograph Series in Japanese Studies, 73; translation by Dennis Washburn)
  • Of Dogs and Walls (犬と塀について, inu to hei nituite , 2018),(translation by Geraldine Harcourt, Penguin Classics)


  1. ^ "Tsushima, Yūko". WorldCat Identities. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
  2. ^ Kometani, Foumiko (24 July 1988). "'SILENCE IS ESSENTIAL'". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  3. ^ Kosaka, Kris (31 March 2018). "'Territory of Light' is a timely translation that sheds light on Japan's marginalized". The Japan Times. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Yuko Tsushima". J'Lit Books from Japan. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  5. ^ a b Kosaka, Kris (26 May 2018). "'Of Dogs and Walls': A concentrated hit of Yuko Tsushima". The Japan Times. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  6. ^ "訃報:作家の津島佑子さん死去68歳 太宰治の次女 - 毎日新聞". 毎日新聞.
  7. ^ "泉鏡花文学賞". City of Kanagawa (in Japanese). Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b "過去の受賞作品". Kodansha (in Japanese). Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  9. ^ "川端康成文学賞 過去の受賞作品" [Kawabata Yasunari Literature Prize Past Winning Works] (in Japanese). Shinchosha. Retrieved 21 September 2018.
  10. ^ "読売文学賞 第31回(1979年度)~第40回(1988年度)". Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  11. ^ "谷崎潤一郎賞受賞作品一覧 (List of Tanizaki Prize Award Winners)". Chuo Koron Shinsha (in Japanese). Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Authors: Yuko Tsushima". Books from Japan. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  13. ^ Hartley, Barbara (3 June 2016). "Chapter 6: Feminism and Japanese Literature". In Hutchinson, Rachael; Morton, Leith Douglas (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature. pp. 82–94.
  14. ^ a b Kosaka, Kris (16 December 2017). "'Child of Fortune': Yuko Tsushima's prize-winning and feminist novel on womanhood". The Japan Times. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  15. ^ Kosaka, Kris (8 August 2015). "'The Shooting Gallery' reveals Yuko Tsushima's existential feminism". The Japan Times. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  16. ^ Self, John (14 April 2018). "Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima review – Bracing, often breathtaking". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  17. ^ a b Tsushima, Yuko (22 January 1989). "Yuko Tsushima: `I Am Not Pessimistic About The Future Of Women`". Chicago Tribune. Translated by Kuriki, Chieki. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  18. ^ McKnight, Anne; Bourdaghs, Michael. "Memento libri: New Writings and Translations from the World of Tsushima Yūko (1947~2016)". The Asia Pacific Journal. 16.
  19. ^ Goossen, Theodore, ed. (2002). The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories. Oxford University Press.
  20. ^ Langley, Lee (28 April 2018). "A single mother hits rock bottom in Tokyo: Territory of Light reviewed". The Spectator. Retrieved 18 June 2018.

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