Miyuki Miyabe (宮部みゆき,Miyabe Miyuki, born 1960) is a Japanese writer of genre fiction. She has won numerous Japanese literary awards, including the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for Literature, the Shiba Ryotaro Prize, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been widely adapted for film, television, manga, and video games, and has been translated into over a dozen languages.
Early life and education
Miyabe was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1960. Her mother was a seamstress and her father was an assembly line worker at a factory. She graduated from Sumidagawa High School, then attended a business training school before taking an administrative job at a law office.
Miyabe started writing novels at the age of 23. In 1984, while working at a law office, Miyabe began to take writing classes at a writing school run by the Kodansha publishing company. She made her literary debut in 1987 with "Warera ga rinjin no hanzai" (我らが隣人の犯罪), which won the 26th All Yomimono Mystery Novel Newcomer Prize. She has since written dozens of novels and won numerous literary prizes.
Miyabe's novel All She Was Worth (火車,Kasha), set at the beginning of Japan's lost decade and telling the story of a Tokyo police inspector's search for a missing woman who might be an identity thief trying to get clear of debt, was published by Futabasha in 1992. The next year Kasha won the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, which is awarded for a new literary work that excels at storytelling in any genre. Kasha was adapted into a television movie by TV Asahi in 1994, then again in 2011. The Japanese version of the book sold millions of copies. An English translation of Kasha, translated by Alfred Birnbaum, was published by Kodansha International under the title All She Was Worth in 1997. Marilyn Stasio of The New York Times positively noted the relationship between the "spare style and measured pace" of Birnbaum's translation and the "somber tone of Miyuki's theme" of individual value in a consumerist economy, while Cameron Barr of The Christian Science Monitor wrote that the book's treatment of privacy and data tracking would leave the impression that "personal privacy is a rickety antique."
The Reason (理由,Riyū), a multiple perspective murder mystery set in Tokyo's Arakawa ward and written in the form of research interviews conducted in mostly polite language with the suspect, neighbors, and family members of the victims, was published in book form in 1998. Riyū won the 17th Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize in the Japanese novel category that same year. In 1999 Riyū won the 120th Naoki Prize. Scholar Noriko Chino has described Riyū as "one of the masterpieces of postwar fictional social criticism." Riyū was adapted into a Nobuhiko Obayashi movie that was first shown on the Wowow television channel before its 2004 theatrical release.
Miyabe's novel Crossfire (クロスファイア,Kurosufaia), about a police detective pursuing a girl with pyrokinetic powers, was published in the same year as Riyū. It was adapted into the 2000 Toho film Pyrokinesis, starring Akiko Yada and Masami Nagasawa. An English version of Crossfire, translated by Deborah Stuhr Iwabuchi and Anna Husson Isozaki, was published in 2006, with Kirkus Reviews calling it "the most conventional of her three novels translated into English". In 2003 Kadokawa Shoten published Miyabe's fantasy novel Brave Story, a story about a boy with a troubled home life who finds a portal to another world. Brave Story became a bestseller in Japan, and has since been adapted into an anime film, a manga series, and a series of video games. The English version of the novel, translated by Alexander O. Smith, won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award in 2008.
Miyabe has written novels in several different genres, including science fiction, mystery fiction, historical fiction, social commentary, and young adult literature. Outside of Japan she is better known for her crime and fantasy novels. English translations of her work include Crossfire (クロスファイア), published in 1998, and Kasha (火車), translated by Alfred Birnbaum as All She Was Worth, published in 1999. Literary scholar Amanda Seaman called Kasha "a watershed moment in the history of women's detective fiction" that inspired "a new wave of women mystery writers."
A common theme in Miyabe's work is community, particularly the effects of consumerism in Japanese society on family and community relationships.
1992 45th Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel: The Sleeping Dragon
1992 13th Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers: Honjo Fukagawa Fushigi-zōshi
1993 6th Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize: All She Was Worth
1997 18th Japan SF Award: Gamōtei Jiken
1998 17th Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize: Riyū (The Reason)