National

Iranian writer up for Akutagawa Prize

Kyodo News

Iranian writer Shirin Nezammafi is among the six nominees for the 141st Akutagawa Prize for new writers of serious fiction for a story written in Japanese, the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Literature said Thursday.

She is the third nominated writer from a country whose language does not use kanji.

Her nominated work, “Shiroi Kami” (“White Paper”), which in April won the 108th Bungakukai Shinjinsho, or new author’s prize, depicts a romance between two students at the time of the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s.

Chinese novelist Yang Yi last year became the first nonnative Japanese speaker to win the prize.

Nezammafi, 29, whose mother tongue is Persian, began learning Japanese while in high school in Tehran.

After moving to Japan in 1999, she studied at Kobe University’s graduate school of engineering and currently works at Panasonic Corp. as a systems engineer, according to the organizer.

She won a literary award for foreign students in 2006.

The literature promotion society also nominated six authors, including movie director Miwa Nishikawa, 34, for the 141st Naoki Prize, a major literature award for popular fiction.

The prizewinners are expected to be announced after a screening committee meeting in Tokyo on July 15.