In 2003, two young female authors won the Akutagawa Prize — arguably the most important literary prize in Japan. One winner was 21-year-old Hitomi Kanehara for her novel “Snakes and Earrings” (“Hebi ni Piasu”); the other was Risa Wataya, who was only 19 at the time — the youngest winner of the prize at the time — for her novel “I Want to Kick You in the Back” (“Keritai Senaka”).

Despite Wataya’s status as a literary star in Japan and her novel selling more than 1 million copies, “I Want to Kick You in the Back” was only translated into English this year, 12 years after it won the Akutagawa. It’s been a long time coming.

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