Books

Crime and thriller writer Kanae Minato named winner of Yamamoto Shugoro Prize

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

The 29th Yamamoto Shugoro Prize will be given to Kanae Minato for her book “Utopia,” the award’s screening committee said Monday.

“I feel at ease now that I finally won the prize,” Minato said during a news conference held soon after the committee met. This was the third time she has been nominated.

Minato, who writes crime fiction and thrillers, debuted in 2007. Over 3 million copies of her first novel, “Kokuhaku” (“Confession”), have been published. A film adaptation of her second novel, “Shojo” (“Girls”), will be released in October.

“Receiving a new writer award in 2007 and publishing ‘Kokuhaku’ in 2008, I’m in the eighth year of my career now. I was nominated for various prizes, including the Yamamoto Shugoro Prize and the Naoki Prize, but could not achieve any results,” she said, adding that it was the support of her readers that motivated her to continue striving for the prize.

Minato will receive ¥1 million and an opportunity to have a work appear as a serial in the literary magazine Shosetsu Shincho.

The other nominees included Eiichi Nakata, Yusuke Miyauchi and Hideo Aiba, as well as Moe Oshikiri, who is known for her career as a fashion model. She has appeared in such magazines as Cancam.

Since comedian Naoki Matayoshi won the Akutagawa Prize in 2015, nominating TV personalities for literary awards has grabbed much media attention. The weekly magazine Shukan Asahi asked, “Is Oshikiri ‘a female Matayoshi?” ‘ in an article published May 10.

The 36-year-old Oshikiri was nominated for her second novel. It incorporates six short stories depicting complicated life stories of various female characters, including idols, an office worker and a midwife.

The head of the screening committee, writer Jo Sasaki, said Oshikiri came close to winning the award, and that there was discussion of having two winners.

Another screening committee meanwhile decided to award the 29th Yukio Mishima Prize to Shigehiko Hasumi, 80, an academic researcher of French literature and former president of the University of Tokyo, for his book “Hakushaku Fujin (Duchess).”

The Yamamoto Shugoro Prize and the Mishima Yukio Prize were established in 1988 by the Shincho Foundation and its group publisher, Shinchosha.

The Yamamoto Prize is named after author Shugoro Yamamoto (1903-1967), a major force in developing Japanese literature during the Showa Era with his historical and popular novels. His major works included “Lives of Great Japanese Women” and “The Tales Of Dr. Redbeard.”

The Yamamoto Prize is an entertainment award, whereas the Mishima Prize is given for pure literature and essays.

The ceremony for the two awards will be held June 24.