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Hiroshi Sakagami  [ Japan ]


Hiroshi Sakagami Portrait
© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2006.


Aru aki no dekigoto
Tokio, 1960

Asa no mura
Tokio, 1966

Tokio, 1997

Keita no sentaku
Tokio, 1998

Chikakute tôi tabi
Tokio, 2002

Nemuran ka na
Tokio, 2004

Übersetzerin: Nora Bierich

Hiroshi Sakagami was born in Tokyo in 1936. He enjoyed little status within his family, which fell to pieces after the war, yet he was soon to find recognition within the literary world. His first novel, published at the age of nineteen, was nominated for the Akutagawa Prize and the later book »Aru aki no dekigoto« (t: An incident in autumn) was awarded the Chûôkôron Prize. The short story describes the inner life of a young man who is obsessed with the desire to kill his violent brother and initiate a sexual relationship with his younger sister. Yukio Mishima, one of the jury members, called the novel »poetic« and praised its fascinating twist, in which the protagonist decides on the »not-killing evil« rather than the »killing« one.
Sakagami studied Formal Logic at Keiô University in Tokyo, which only strengthened his decision to become a writer and work with all the richness of language. Since making a living by writing texts for radio and television as a student, he never again wanted to subject his writing to market constraints and began to work in business. As a sideline he wrote novels and short stories in the tradition of the Japanese Shishôsetsu novels which devote themselves to an exploration of the individual and his emotional worlds. Since the traditional genre does not transcend everyday life, Sakagami attempted to »describe the quotidian and go beyond its limits«. He thus often focuses on social groups possessed by irrational thoughts. In his novel »Asa no mura« (1966; t: The village in the morning), he tells the story of the collapse of a fanatical community which attempts to use a theory of chicken breeding for the ideal organisation of society. This theme is further pursued in the novel »Keita no sentaku« (1998; t: Keita's decision), in which the protagonist joins a religious sect deep in the mountains after retreating from capitalist society in the search for redemption. »Nemuran ka na« (2004; t: Should I sleep?) is an examination of his father's generation. This short story describes how those who once dedicated themselves to Zen teachings in a spirit of reverence towards nature and humanity, became devotees of entrepreneurship at the time of the Japanese economic miracle, and eventually perished as a result. The story »Daidokoro« (1997; t: The kitchen) and the novel »Chikakute tôi tabi« (2002; t: The nearby distant trip) do not portray the damage but rather the recovery of individuals of the postwar generation and focus on the compatibility of individual love and family cohesion.
Sakagami's novels and stories have met with great praise and have been awarded, among other honours, the Yomiuri Literature Prize, the New Writer's Prize of the Ministry of Culture, the Noma Prize and the Kawabata Literature Prize. In 2005 the author received the Kunshô Order for his long-standing work as a writer. Sakagami is president of the Japan Writers' Association and director of Keiô University Press. He lives in Tokyo and is working on a new book, which will be published next year.

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