10 Japanese Authors You Should Know About

When it comes to Japanese authors, most of us don’t know many names maybe except Haruki Murakami. Here is a list of some well known Japanese authors that you should know about.

Mieko Kawakami

The 44-year-old Osaka-born writer is part of Japan’s new generation of female novelists. Kawakami rocked the boat among Japanese traditionalists with her feminist novel “Breasts and Eggs,” which explores contemporary womanhood in Japan, with protagonists considering breast enhancement or in-vitro fertilization. The book already has more than a dozen translations in the works.

Sayaka Murata

Born in 1979, Murata is the author of the global bestseller “Convenience Store Woman” and the winner of Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa Prize. Until recently, Murata worked in a store herself and wrote during her time off. Following the success of “Convenience Store Woman,” which was the first of Murata’s 11 novels made available in English, “Earthlings” was also translated in 2020.

Banana Yoshimoto

Japanese Authors

The daughter of renowned poet Takaaki Yoshimoto, this author — whose original name is Mahoko Yoshimoto — achieved worldwide popularity with her stories featuring unusual characters. She wrote her 1988 novel “Kitchen” while working as a waitress. The book has since been translated into more than 30 languages. Hong Kong director Ho Yim adapted the novel into a Cantonese-language film in 1997.

Yukiko Motoya

A critically acclaimed writer and winner of the Akutagawa prize, Motoya tells stories of alienated housewives and service workers who live in surreal worlds, seeking intimate relationships and suffering a loss of identity. One of Motoya’s most famous works, “The Lonesome Bodybuilder,” is a collection of short stories and explores the disconnect between humans.

Yoko Ogawa

Ogawa has won every major Japanese literary award. Since 1988, she has published more than 20 works of fiction and nonfiction. Her books include “The Diving Pool,” “The Housekeeper and the Professor,” “Hotel Iris” and “Revenge.” She made headlines in 2019 when she joined a collective lawsuit to have same-sex marriage rights recognized.

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Yoko Tawada

Born in Tokyo in 1960, Tawada moved to Germany in the 1980s to work in her father’s bookselling business. She then studied German literature at Hamburg University. She writes in both Japanese and German. Tawada has won numerous awards including the Goethe Medal and a National Book Award. Her “Memoirs of a Polar Bear” stars three generations of bears who are performers and writers in East Germany.

Ryu Murakami

Japanese Authors

One of Japan’s most celebrated novelists, Ryu Murakami is known for being openly political in his writing. His novels are often bleak and describe the brutality of the seemingly picture-perfect image of Japan. His protagonists tend to be youngsters unmoved by Japan’s social norms and perpetuators of casual violence. His first novel was: “Almost Transparent Blue.” He is also a filmmaker.

Kenzaburo Oe

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1994 was awarded to Oe “who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today. ” Born in 1935, Oe’s works explore social and political issues including nuclear weapons. He refused the emperor’s Order of Culture because he does “not recognize authority higher than democracy.”

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Yasunari Kawabata

Born in 1899, Kawabata was the first Japanese national to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. He first earned recognition outside of his native land in 1926 with his short story “The Dancing Girl of Izu,” which recounts the tale of a young male student from Tokyo and a group of performers from Oshima island.

Junichiro Tanizaki

Japanese author

One of Japan’s most famous novelists of all time, Tanizaki explored taboo themes such as erotic obsessions and sexuality. At the same time, the author gave the world a window into the dynamics of family life in 20th-century Japan when the country was undergoing rapid social and industrial change. Tanizaki was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in 1964, a year before his death.

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