Novelists Haneko Takayama and Haruka Tono have won the Akutagawa Prize for up-and-coming authors, while Seishu Hase won the Naoki Prize for popular fiction, the selection committee said Wednesday.
Takayama, 45, won for her novel "Shuri no Uma" ("A Horse from Shuri"), which depicts a woman's eccentric encounter with an indigenous horse, while Tono, 28, received the prize for "Hakyoku" ("Breakup"), portraying a young man's emptiness.
Hase, 55, was awarded the Naoki Prize for "Shonen to Inu" ("A Boy and Dog"), a collection of short stories about a dog's journey south from the northeast in the immediate aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The winning novel of Takayama, who debuted as a science fiction writer in 2010, is set in the southern Japan island prefecture of Okinawa, where the female protagonist, who helps to organize materials at a local museum, meets a phantom horse.
Tono's work follows the life of an athletic male university student studying to be a public servant. He won the Bungei Literary Prize in 2019 for his first book.
The selection committee cited his novel for the compelling depiction of a lack of balance in the protagonist's character.
Hase, who made his debut as a writer in 1996 and has received numerous literary prizes over his career, finally received the Naoki Prize after being nominated several times.
"I am extremely thankful. I would like to continue to write as long as I can," said Hase at a bar in Hokkaido, where he hails from.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Tokyo in late August, with each author receiving ¥1 million ($9,300) in prize money.
The Akutagawa Prize was established in 1935 in memory of Japanese novelist Ryunosuke Akutagawa. The Naoki Prize, created the same year, was named after author Sanjugo Naoki.