English articles


Sian Cain “Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel prize-winning Japanese writer, dies aged 88” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/13/kenzaburo-oe-nobel-prize-winning-japanese-writer-dies


Spanning fiction and essays, Oe’s work tackled a wide range of subjects from militarism and nuclear disarmament to innocence and trauma, and he became an outspoken champion for the voiceless in the face of what he regarded as his country’s failures. Regarded by some in Japan as distinctly western, Oe’s style was often likened to William Faulkner; in his own words, in his writing he would “start from my personal matters and then link it up with society, the state and the world”.

Many of his stories and essays touched on formative events in his life, including the impact of war on Japanese society in novels such as The Silent Cry – which the Nobel committee deemed his masterpiece – and the birth of his son Hikari, which led him to explore his own experience as the father of a disabled child in the novels A Personal Matter and A Quiet Life.

The Silent Cryは『万延元年のフットボール』。ヘンリー・ミラーエドワード・サイードカズオ・イシグロ、ジョン・ネイサンの大江評;

Henry Miller once likened Oe to Dostoevsky, in his “range of hope and despair”, while Edward Said, a friend for 20 years, noted his “extraordinary power of sympathetic understanding”. Fellow laureate Kazuo Ishiguro once described him as “genuinely decent, modest, surprisingly open and honest, and very unconcerned about fame”, while his translator, John Nathan, credited him with “creating a language of his own, in the manner of Faulkner and few Japanese writers before him”.

In 1960 Oe married his wife, Yukari. Three years later their first child, Hikari, was born with a herniated brain and doctors urged the parents to let him die. Oe admitted to once wishing for his son’s death – a “disgraceful” thought, he later wrote, that “no powerful detergent has allowed me to wash out of my life”. But encounters with survivors of Hiroshima a month later were transformative, and led to his essay Hiroshima Notes. “I was trained as a writer and as a human being by the birth of my son,” he told the Guardian in 2005. Hikari went on to become a musical prodigy and an award-winning composer, with Oe saying his music sold “better than any of my novels, and I’m proud of that”.

Oe wrote many fictional fathers with disabled sons, in books such as A Personal Matter, The Silent Cry and A Quiet Life, which was adapted for cinema by Oe’s brother-in-law, the director Juzo Itami, with a score based on Hikari’s compositions. In 1995, he wrote a bestselling essay collection, A Healing Family, in which he credited Hikari for teaching him the healing power of art. He rejected accusations that he had exploited his son by writing about him so frankly: “Our relationship is a real one. It’s the most important thing: life comes first, and literature second … I’m always happy to be with him. I can be very lonely and fearful of people. But with my son I’m very free.”

“Nobel prize-winning author Kenzaburo Oe dies” https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-64938314


Oe once declared that Japan was, morally, a third-world country, and called his style a rebellion against "the sacred territory" of other Japanese writers, such as Junichiro Tanizaki, Yasunari Kawabata and Yukio Mishima, "who reflect beauty and power of which Tokyo is the centre".

His vivid, aggressive works often highlighted the struggles of rural Japan, notably in The Silent Cry, an existentialist novel which tells the story of two brothers returning to their ancestral home after decades of separation.

Against a backdrop of personal crises, one brother leads a rebellion against "the Emperor of Supermarkets," a Korean brought to Japan as a slave during the War, who wants to buy the family's property; while the other picks apart the secrets of his own family's past.

"At first glance it appears to concern an unsuccessful revolt, but fundamentally the novel deals with people's relationships with each other in a confusing world in which knowledge, passions, dreams, ambitions and attitudes merge into each other," said the Nobel Academy.

In later years, the theme of redemption became more prevalent in his work. At around the same time, his son overcame his early difficulties and established himself as a successful composer.

Oe said that ultimately his writing was focused on a single concern. "I am writing about the dignity of human beings," he said.