In “Hanchibakku” (“Hunchback”) by Saou Ichikawa, the human body is a machine that can be used for financial gain — even if it appears to be broken.

The novella, which won the second Akutagawa Prize of 2023, takes place in a group home in present day and centers on Shaka Izawa, a woman diagnosed with myotubular myopathy. Her muscles are weak, and her severely curved, S-shaped spine crushes her right lung, so she has trouble breathing on her own. In place of physical mobility, Shaka spends her days at home writing. The story is dark and funny, and it offers a not-so-subtle commentary on bodies, both abled and disabled.

Hunchback, by Saou Ichikawa. 96 pages, BUNGEI SHUNJU, Fiction.