Tanaka, Enjo win Akutagawa award; Hamuro gets Naoki

Kyodo

Novelists Shinya Tanaka and To Enjo are sharing the semiannual Akutagawa Award, while the Naoki Prize for popular literature has gone to Rin Hamuro for his “Higurashi no Ki” (“Chronicle of Cicada”), the selection committees for the two prestigious awards for Japanese literature said.

Tanaka, a 39-year-old novelist born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, has won numerous accolades, including the Yukio Mishima Prize for “Tomogui” (“Cannibalism”), a depiction of sex and violence in a remote community.

Previously nominated four times for the Akutagawa, Tanaka joked at a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo that the prize rightly belonged to him.

Enjo, also 39, was a Web engineer before turning to writing. The Sapporo native was awarded the prize for “Dokeshi no Cho” (“Clown’s Butterfly”), an experimental work that challenges readers to ponder the nature of language by employing an imaginary motif.

“I had thought they (members of the selection committee) would say my work isn’t good enough for the Akutagawa Award, with award-winning works getting read widely,” Enjo said at the news conference. “I assume that they made a bold decision.”

Hamuro is a former newspaper reporter born in Kitakyushu. In “Higurashi no Ki,” a period novel, the 60-year-old writer describes interactions between a magistrate under house arrest with a pending order to commit hara-kiri and a young samurai who respects him.

Nominated for the Naoki five times in the past, Hamuro told the news conference that he felt relieved because the pressure of waiting for the award announcements was enormous.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony in mid-February, with each writer receiving ¥1 million in prize money.

The Akutagawa Prize, which is often given to up-and-coming novelists pursuing serious literature, was established in memory of renowned novelist Ryunosuke Akutagawa, and the Naoki Prize was named after writer Sanjugo Naoki. Nominations are made twice a year.