Yūko Tsushima

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.

These are stories that cut deeply, and remain etched into your memory long after the last page. Largely billed as a feminist writer, Tsushima evades any label, her fiction transcends gender to focus on the existential loneliness that is at the heart of humanity.

—Kris Kosaka, The Japan Times

As potent and heady as a dry martini….Tsushima is an archaeologist of the female psyche.

Village Voice

[Tsushima’s heroines share a] hopeless, level gaze which sees everything, the ability (in spite of having seen everything) to go ahead, eyes on the road–it takes a very special and very personal talent to so convincingly display this….[And] here Tsushima has finally found something like perfection in this imperfect world–Geraldine Harcourt’s translations. After the first page, one completely forgets that it is, indeed, a translation one is reading.

—Donald Richie, The Japan Times

Yuko Tsushima is one of the most important Japanese writers of her generation.

—The New York Times
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