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Disabled Author Claims Akutagawa Literary Award

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Articles and Reports, News

A disabled author won Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa literary award for the first time for her work about a disabled woman’s anger and desires.

Saou Ichikawa, who has congenital myopathy, won the Akutagawa Prize for up-and-coming authors for her novel “Hunchback,” a humorous debut that also acts as a commentary on the privileges of non-disabled people.

“I wrote this with the mind that there are not many authors (with severe disabilities) like me,” Ichikawa, who uses a ventilator and electric wheelchair, said in a press conference.

“I would like everyone to think about why it is that a work like this became a first to win the Akutagawa Prize in 2023,” the 43-year-old added.

Author Keiichiro Hirano, a judge for the Akugatawa prize, said Ichikawa’s novel garnered overwhelming support for its strength as a novel.

“She critically dismantled social norms and etiquette through the use of the protagonist’s difficulties,” he said.

The Naoki Prize for popular fiction was awarded to Ryosuke Kakine, 57, for his historical novel “Gokurakuseiitaishogun” and Sayako Nagai, 46, for her historical novel “Kobikicho no adauchi.”

The awards will be presented at a ceremony in Tokyo in late August, with each author receiving 1 million yen ($7,150) in prize money.

The Akutagawa Prize was established in 1935 in memory of the Japanese novelist Ryunosuke Akutagawa. The Naoki Prize, created the same year, was named after author Sanjugo Naoki.

 

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