The novelist Randy Taguchi, known as queen of the e-mail magazine, is enjoying something of a boom. Although she started writing on the Internet in 1996 and now draws some 78,000 readers for the weekly essay she posts on the Web, she came to more general attention when her first novel, "Consent," was praised by Ryu Murakami last year as one to the best novels he'd read in a decade and was a finalist for the prestigious Naoki Prize.
Seen as an Earth Mother figure, Taguchi has called herself an uneducated, hard-drinking country wife. She broke away from her violent home life in Ibaraki -- her father was an alcoholic -- and came to Tokyo after graduating from high school. She cofounded an advertising agency in 1985 but in 1994 quit and moved to the country. Afterward she had a child and started writing on the Net.
Like the recent winner of the Naoki Prize, Kiyoshi Shigematsu, Taguchi is not the most polished fiction writer, but there is great vitality in her writing about contemporary Japan. "Consent" was based on the actual "hikikomori" (shut-in) death of her brother; since then, she has completed the loosely linked trilogy with "Antenna" and "Mosaic." In addition to essay collections, a diary and a book about her travels in Vietnam, Taguchi also had a collection of short stories, "Midnight Call," published earlier this year.