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Kenzaburo Oe


Only since he won the Nobel Prize in 1994 has Kenzaburo Oe been known in the West, though several of his novels have been available in English and other Western languages for many years. His winning the Nobel Prize also put the spotlight on his son, Hikari, the subject of A Personal Matter, born with a brain hernia and given little chance of surviving when born and expected to be severely retarded if he did survive but now an accomplished composer. Oe and his wife were prepared to abandon Hikari but Oe visited a memorial to the dead at Hiroshima and this changed his mind. He has since written extensively about Hiroshima, though has since claimed to have given up writing. In particular, he was sued by two retired Japanese military officers for libel over his allegations that the Japanese military had forced large numbers of Okinawa citizens to commit suicide during the 1945 Allied invasion of the island. He subsequently won this trial but during the period of the trial, he did not write at all.

Apart from his son and Hiroshima, other important themes of Oe’s are his connection to the village where he was born and the changing face of Japan, particularly the emphasis on consumerism. He is very much concerned with human dignity, particularly in the light of the suffering of his son. He won the Nobel Prize in 1994. He died in 2023.

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Kenzaburo Oe
Kenzaburo Oe


(only books translated into English)

1958 芽むしり仔撃ち(Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids)
1963 セヴンティーン; 性的人間 (Two Novels: Seventeen, J)
1964 個人的な体験 (A Personal Matter)
1965 ヒロシマ・ノート (Hiroshima Notes)
1967 万延元年のフットボール (The Silent Cry)
1969 われらの狂気を生き延びる道を教えよ(Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness)
1972 みずから我が涙をぬぐいたまう日 (The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away)
1976 ピンチランナー調書 (The Pinch Runner Memorandum)
1983 新しい人よ眼ざめよ (Rouse Up, O Young Men of the New Age!)
1989 人生の親戚 (An Echo of Heaven)
1990 静かな生活 (A Quiet Life)
1995 恢復する家族 (A Healing Family)
1999 宙返り (Somersault)
2000 取り替え子 (チェンジリング) (The Changeling)
2009 水死 (Death By Water)