lifestyle

Author Mieko Kawakami wants to 'stir things up'

8 Comments
By Kyoko HASEGAWA

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Tokyo's then-governor, who is also a novelist and has often been critical of young Japanese writers, denouncing it as "unpleasant" and "self-centered rambling."

Hmm. Doesn't sound like he's heard of the "I" novel genre, which was so prominent in Japan for at least the first half of the 20th century. He's also presumably not aware of the novels of the rather unpleasant Osamu Dazai, who brings new meaning to a term like "self-centred rambling". Still, Mieko Kawakami is a woman where Dazai wasn't, so I guess the way he sees the world, she deserves it.

I've seen "Breasts And Eggs" on Amazon, and I admit the title put me off. Now I've read this, though, I'm going to buy it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There is a good 'Guardian' interview with her. Google: Mieko Kawakami: 'Women are no longer content to shut up'

Apparently Murakami replied to her criticism: 'I’m not interested in individualistic characters. And that applies to men and women both.'

Japan does reverence well, maybe too well. I think she may have landed quite a blow there.

-Not everyone was impressed by its experimental style...

Being condemned by the ancien régime is always a bonus.

Young writers (of all sexes) should note her use of a blog to leverage herself and her writing outside of the male-dominated hierarchy. 'The writer you can meet', at least online. That may even work in the West, to some extent, where there is less gender bias but publishers still have a Mafia-like grip on a market that is typically divided between literary and popular. If anything, this has intensified with the rise of self-publishing, which is the route you usually have to use in the West if you don't want to obey the publishers' strictures on what you write and how you write it. Get your stuff out there.

The Japanese market is (inevitably) different. Literacy is higher. Lockdowns aside, some women may have more leisure time to read (perhaps because of the gender disparity). The middle class is wider. Writing takes more flexible forms - cellphone novels, fan fiction and webtoons are more common.

I hope she gets to follow her own path and keeps writing what she wants to.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

"Now I'm surrounded by highly educated people from the middle and upper classes in the publishing industry, but I'm working class... and I'm on their side," she said.

She was raised by a single mother in a poor household where "you had to work, it didn't matter if you were female or male" and she lied about her age so she could work at a factory during school holidays.

Respect.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

If a writer chooses to include women in the role of sexual servants only ( or anyone or any group in the role of anything ) that's the writer's prerogative. Novels and any work of fiction are not government statements. If she doesn't like it, don't read them. Murakami has every right to write how he feels fit and should never ever write within constraints imposed by other's policital views.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

...she asked one of Japan's most famous writers, Haruki Murakami, why so many women in his novels seemed to serve a purely sexual function.

Is not the opposite true for "romance" novels for women? In either case, the femine qualities of women need to be celebrated more as well as the masculine traits of men. Men and women are different. Men are not women and women are not men. Let's celebrate this diversity.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

She is quite interesting as a writer but this whole feminist trope is clichéd beyond belief. It has been done to death and there is nothing more to be done. Women should have equality with men and they do have it. Of course, one will always be able to come up with some anecdotal 'evidence' of a female being turned down for a job or being spoken to in a patronising manner but that happens to almost everybody from time to time.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

If women should have equality with the men, then why don't men and women have equality divorce settlement? Why women wins over men by 90% on divorce paper? Shouldn't it be equal and fair for both.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I think some posters may be being unnecessarily defensive.

She is not suggesting that Murakami should be 'cancelled' because he doesn't write stories about 'strong independent women who don't need no man'. And, whilst Murakami can write anything he wants, having earned his pedestal, young writers rarely have quite as much freedom.

Most people would not pose any tough questions in such an interview. We live in a celebrity culture and most critics and press interviewers will pander to fame, particularly in Japan. Writers often ask better questions, as they spend more of their day with the nuts and bolts of writing - the decision making that constructs a book and the choices that an author makes to get from A to B. Some of these choices are conscious, some less so. Exploring them provides future generations of readers and critics with something to pick over.

It is good to question famous authors, just as we should persistently and honestly evaluate their works. Despite the Maoist-like abuses of cancel culture, quality survives. Only idiots and fools promote, support ot accept censorship. Not everyone will enjoy all works, for a wide variety of reasons. Nobody expects their work to be universally read and adored. We want fair and honest criticism, and welcome the opportunity for our stuff to be read and provide pleasure, stimulation and inspiration, provoking thought in readers. Different authors certainly have different target markets. Some of the least readable or enjoyable books have been amongst the most important, criticially. James Joyce, take a bow.

The literary industry is no different from any other. The most reliable coverage of it that you are likely to get in the UK probably comes from a fortnightly magazine called 'Private Eye', which specialises in uncovering hypocrisy, corruption and dodgy dealing. The best raw material about authors and their works can often be obtained when they are grilled by other authors.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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