Japan novelist honoured for novel based on father's atomic bomb experience

PHOTO: The Japan News/ANN

"The Japanese language can be used so freely - that's what I learned from Kyoka's works," Mayumi Nagano said at the award ceremony for the Kyoka Izumi literary prize on Nov. 21 in Kanazawa. Nagano, 56, was referring to a novel written by Izumi, a prominent writer from Kanazawa Prefecture, which she read for the first time as a middle school student.

Nagano received the Bungei Prize in 1988 for her literary debut, but did not win an award for quite some time after that. This autumn, however, she received the 43rd Kyoka Izumi literary prize and the 68th Noma Literary Prize.

She was honoured for her novel "Meido ari," whose title refers to the afterlife and which consists of two stories based on Nagano's family history. The title piece of the novel includes Nagano's father, who died two years ago. He was an honest craftsman his entire life and said he was born and raised in Tokyo.

However, he had actually moved to Hiroshima for safety during World War II. He survived the atomic bomb attack on the city on Aug. 6, 1945, because his workplace was closed that day.

"It seemed that he didn't even like to think about the atomic bomb. I think there were many atomic bomb survivors who didn't talk about their experiences," Nagano said.

She read historical documents on Hiroshima and portrayed her father's past, which he had been silent about, as if filling in the blanks with her imagination as a writer.

After graduating from university, Nagano worked for a department store before becoming a writer. She is a gifted novelist whose debut work, "Shonen Alice" (The boy Alice), created a magical atmosphere.

"I'm a novelist only when I'm writing. I want to write stories in accordance with 'my boom' - whatever I want to write," Nagano said.Speech