New authors, including women and elderly, rise in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — The works recognized by one of Japan’s most coveted literary awards, the Naoki Prize, have something new in common: for the first time in 85 years, all six nominated authors are women.

Japan is home to what many consider the world’s first novel, “The Tale of Genji,” written in the 11th century. Its modern fiction has been defined by Nobel laureates Kenzaburo Oe and Yasunari Kawabata and for decades has been dominated by Haruki Murakami.

But Japanese literature is beginning to look different as new voices, including young writers, women and the elderly, receive recognition.

Last Friday, two women — Natsuko Imamura and Masumi Oshima — were awarded the Akutagawa and Naoki prizes. The prize earns the writers prestige and, increasingly, a clear path to wider audiences through translation.

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