Early Kobo Abe short story found

Kyodo

An unpublished manuscript by the world-renowned novelist and playwright Kobo Abe (1924-1993) has been found at his brother’s home in Sapporo, a publishing house said Tuesday.

The 19-page work, titled “Tenshi” (“Angel”), is believed to have been written in 1946 when the 22-year-old Abe was aboard a ship bringing back Japanese settlers from northeastern China, Shinchosha Publishing Co. said.

The story will be published in the December issue of the monthly magazine Shincho going on sale Wednesday, it said.

In the story, believed to be the third-earliest known work by Abe, the author depicts a man who escapes from a mental hospital and wanders around believing he and passersby are angels. The story shows a recurring theme of Abe’s works — the fictional nature of the real world.

The string-bound A5 notebook containing the story was found at the home of Abe’s younger brother in Sapporo. The manuscript’s authenticity has been confirmed, including by Abe’s oldest daughter, Neri, who said the handwriting is her father’s.