Yōko Ogawa (小川 洋子,Ogawa Yōko, born March 30, 1962) is a Japanese writer.
Background and education
Ogawa was born in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, graduated from Waseda University, and lives in Ashiya, Hyōgo, with her husband and son.
Since 1988, Ogawa has published more than forty works of fiction and nonfiction. In 2006 she co-authored "An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics" with Masahiko Fujiwara, a mathematician, as a dialogue on the extraordinary beauty of numbers.
Kenzaburō Ōe has said, "Yoko Ogawa is able to give expression to the most subtle workings of human psychology in prose that is gentle yet penetrating." The subtlety in part lies in the fact that Ogawa's characters often seem not to know why they are doing what they are doing. She works by accumulation of detail, a technique that is perhaps more successful in her shorter works; the slow pace of development in the longer works requires something of a deus ex machina to end them. The reader is presented with an acute description of what the protagonists, usually female, observe and feel and their somewhat alienated self-observations, some of which reflect Japanese society and especially women's roles within it. The tone of her works varies, across the works and sometimes within the longer works, from the surreal, through the grotesque and the —sometimes grotesquely— humorous, to the psychologically ambiguous and even disturbing. (Hotel Iris, one of her longer works, is more explicit sexually than her other works and is also her most widely translated.)
A film in French, L'Annulaire (The Ringfinger), based in part on Ogawa's Kusuriyubi no hyōhon (薬指の標本), was released in France in June 2005. Her novel The Housekeeper and the Professor was made into the movie The Professor's Beloved Equation.
Awards and honors
1988 Kaien literary Prize (Benesse) for her debut The Breaking of the Butterfly (Agehacho ga kowareru toki, 揚羽蝶が壊れる時)
1990 Akutagawa Prize for Pregnancy Diary (Ninshin karendaa, 妊娠 カレンダー)
2004 Yomiuri Prize, Bookseller's Award for The Professor's Beloved Equation (Hakase no aishita sushiki, 博士の愛した数式; translated as The Housekeeper and the Professor)
2004 Izumi Kyōka Prize for Burafuman no maisō, ブラフマンの埋葬
2006 Tanizaki Prize for Meena's March (Mīna no kōshin, ミーナの行進)
2008 Shirley Jackson Award for The Diving Pool
2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize shortlist for Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales (Japanese; trans. Stephen Snyder)
Works in English translation
The Man Who Sold Braces (Gibusu o uru hito, ギブスを売る人, 1998); translated by Motoyuki Shibata, Manoa, 13.1, 2001.
Transit (Toranjitto, トランジット, 1996); translated by Alisa Freedman, Japanese Art: The Scholarship and Legacy of Chino Kaori, special issue of Review of Japanese Culture and Society, Vol. XV (Center for Inter-Cultural Studies and Education, Josai University, December 2003): 114-125. ISSN 0913-4700
The Cafeteria in the Evening and a Pool in the Rain (Yūgure no kyūshoku shitsu to ame no pūru, 夕暮れの給食室と雨のプール, 1991); translated by Stephen Snyder, The New Yorker, 9/2004. Read here
Pregnancy Diary (Ninshin karendā, 妊娠カレンダー, 1991); translated by Stephen Snyder, The New Yorker, 12/2005. Read here
The Diving Pool: Three Novellas (Daibingu puru, ダイヴィング・プール, 1990; Ninshin karendā, 妊娠カレンダー, 1991; Dormitory, ドミトリイ, 1991); translated by Stephen Snyder, New York: Picador, 2008. ISBN 0-312-42683-6
The Housekeeper and the Professor (Hakase no ai shita sūshiki, 博士の愛した数式, 2003); translated by Stephen Snyder, New York : Picador, 2008. ISBN 0-312-42780-8
Hotel Iris (Hoteru Airisu, ホテル・アイリス, 1996), translated by Stephen Snyder, Picador, 2010.
Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales (Kamoku na shigai, midara na tomurai,寡黙な死骸みだらな弔い,1998) Translated by Stephen Snyder, Picador, 2013. Read here
Agehachō ga kowareru toki, 揚羽蝶が壊れる時, 1989, Kaien Prize
Kanpeki na byōshitsu, 完璧な病室, 1989
Same nai kōcha, 冷めない紅茶, 1990
Shugā taimu, シュガータイム, 1991
Yohaku no ai, 余白の愛, 1991
Angelina Sano Motoharu to 10 no tanpen, アンジェリーナ―佐野元春と10の短編, 1993
Yōsei ga mai oriru yoru, 妖精が舞い下りる夜, 1993
Hisoyaka na kesshō, 密やかな結晶, 1994
Kusuriyubi no hyōhon, 薬指の標本, 1994
Rokukakukei no shō heya, 六角形の小部屋, 1994
Anne Furanku no kioku, アンネ・フランクの記憶, 1995
Shishū suru shōjo, 刺繍する少女, 1996
Yasashī uttae, やさしい訴え, 1996
Kamoku na shigai, midara na tomurai, 寡黙な死骸みだらな弔い, 1998
Kōritsui ta kaori, 凍りついた香り, 1998
Fukaki kokoro no soko yori, 深き心の底より, 1999
Gūzen no shukufuku, 偶然の祝福, 2000
Chinmoku hakubutsukan, 沈黙博物館, 2000
Mabuta, まぶた, 2001
Kifujin A no sosei, 貴婦人Aの蘇生, 2002
Burafuman no maisō, ブラフマンの埋葬, 2004, Izumi Kyōka Prize
Yo ni mo utsukushī sūgaku nyūmon, 世にも美しい数学入門, 2005 (An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics)
Inu no shippo o nade nagara, 犬のしっぽを撫でながら, 2006
Mīna no kōshin, ミーナの行進, 2006 , (illustrated) Tanizaki Prize
Otogibanashi no wasuremono, おとぎ話の忘れ物, 2006 (illustrated)