by Yūko Tsushima
Yūko Tsushima (1947–2016), the daughter of the famous novelist Osamu Dazai, is considered “one of the most important Japanese writers of her generation” (The New York Times). She has won many major literary prizes, including the Kawabata for “The Silent Traders,” one of the stories in The Shooting Gallery, and the Tanizaki for Mountain of Fire. Her early fiction, from which The Shooting Gallery is drawn, was largely based on her experience as a single mother. Her multilayered narrative techniques have increasingly taken inspiration from the Ainu oral epics (yukar) and the tales of premodern Japan. When invited to teach Japanese literature to graduate students in Paris, she taught the yukar, and her seminar led to the publication of Tombent, tombent les gouttes d’argent: Chants du peuple aïnou (1996), the first French edition of the epic poems. Tsushima is active in networks such as the Japan-India Writers’ Caravans and dialogues with Korean and Chinese writers. Recent novels have been set in Taiwan during Japanese colonial rule, among the Kyrgyz, in medieval Nara, and in post-3/11 Tokyo. Her work has been translated into a dozen languages.