Kyoko Nakajima

Last updated
Kyoko Nakajima
Native name
中島 京子
Born (1964-03-23) March 23, 1964 (age 54) [1]
Suginami, Tokyo, Japan
OccupationNovelist, essayist
Alma mater Tokyo Woman's Christian University [1]
Genre Fiction, essay
Notable works
  • Chiisai ouchi (小さいおうち)
  • Tsuma ga shiitake datta koro (妻が椎茸だったころ)
  • Katazuno (かたずの)
Notable awards

Kyoko Nakajima(中島 京子,Nakajima Kyōko, born March 23, 1964) is an award-winning Japanese writer. Her novel Chiisai ouchi (The Little House) won the Naoki Prize in 2010, [2] and was adapted into the 2014 film Chiisai Ouchi . [3] [4] [5] She won the 42nd Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature for Tsuma ga shiitake datta koro (When My Wife Was a Shiitake), [6] and her 2015 novel Katazuno (One-Horn) won both the Shibata Renzaburo Prize [7] and the Kawai Hayao Story Prize. [8] Her work has been translated into Chinese, Korean, French, and English.


Early life and education

Kyoko Nakajima was born in Suginami, Tokyo, Japan to parents who worked as university professors and translators of French literature. Her father was a professor at Chuo University, while her mother was a professor at Meiji University. [9] Nakajima attended Tokyo Woman's Christian University. [1]


After graduating from university, she worked for several years in publishing as an editor at Ray, Cawaii! , and other lifestyle magazines. [9] [10] In 1996 she quit her job to spend a year in the United States, and upon her return to Japan in 1997 she began a new career as a freelance writer. [11]

While Nakajima worked on projects for clients, she was also working on several fiction manuscripts of her own. Her debut novel Futon, which refers to work of the same name by Katai Tayama, [12] was published in 2003 and immediately nominated for the 2003 Noma Literary New Face Prize, but did not win. [13] Around the time that Futon was published, Nakajima's father was diagnosed with dementia. For over a decade, until his death in 2013, Nakajima helped take care of her father while producing her novels and essays. She later drew on this experience to write her 2015 novel Nagai owakare (The Long Goodbye). [14]

Nakajima followed Futon with two more novels and six short story collections, and in 2009 she received a grant from the University of Iowa Center for Asian and Pacific Studies to support a residency at the International Writing Program. [13] [15] In 2010 her novel Chiisai ouchi (The Little House) received the 143rd Naoki Prize, one of Japan's highest literary honors. [2] [16] Subsequent work received several more awards. Tsuma ga shiitake datta koro (When My Wife was a Shiitake) won the 42nd Izumi Kyōka Prize for Literature in 2014. [6] Katazuno (One-Horn) won both the 2015 Shibata Renzaburo Prize and the 2015 Kawai Hayao Story Prize, while Nagai owakare (The Long Goodbye) won the 2015 Chuo Koron Literary Prize. [7] [8] [17] In 2017 Darf Publishers acquired the rights to the English translation of Chiisai ouchi (The Little House), which will be published in 2018. [18]

Nakajima regularly writes opinion essays on culture and politics for Mainichi Shimbun. [19] [20] In 2017, in response to media coverage of the Me Too movement, Nakajima revealed her own experiences with sexual harassment in the publishing industry. [21] [22]

Writing style

Nakajima bases many of her settings and characters on her own personal experiences, such as caring for a parent with dementia, as in Nagai owakare, or dealing with a youthful sibling, as in Kirihatake no endan. [9] [23] Ian McDonald, one of Nakajima's English translators, describes her writing as "deceptively simple prose." [24]


Film adaptations


Books in Japanese

Selected works in English


  1. 1 2 3 "中島京子". Kodansha Kotobank (in Japanese). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 "Akazome, Nakajima win book awards". The Japan Times. July 16, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  3. "Prizes and Honours 2014". Berlinale International Film Festival. February 15, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  4. "Haru Kuroki scoops best actress award at 64th Berlin film festival". The Japan Times. February 16, 2014. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  5. Lee, Maggie (February 15, 2014). "Berlin Film Review: The Little House". Variety. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  6. 1 2 3 "泉鏡花文学賞". City of Kanazawa (in Japanese). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  7. 1 2 3 "集英社 柴田錬三郎賞". Shueisha (in Japanese). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  8. 1 2 3 "第3回河合隼雄物語賞が決定いたしました!". Kawai Hayao Foundation (in Japanese). May 11, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  9. 1 2 3 "第79回:中島京子さん". WEB本の雑誌 (in Japanese). May 30, 2008. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  10. Johnson, Christopher (October 7, 2002). "Youth mix and match styles across borders and eras : Japan's anything-goes mentality". The New York Times. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  11. "角館図書館後援会主催「第53回文化講演会」". 角館図書館後援会 (Kakunodate Library Association) (in Japanese). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  12. Yiu, Angela (October 17, 2017). "Chapter Seven: Remaking Tayama Katai's Futon in Nakajima Kyōko's FUTON". In Thornbury, Barbara; Schulz, Evelyn. Tokyo: Memory, Imagination, and the City. Lexington Books. pp. 137–158. ISBN   9781498523684.
  13. 1 2 "Kyoko Nakajima". University of Iowa International Writers Program. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  14. "[中島京子さん]父の認知症を早期発見". Yomiuri Shimbun (in Japanese). January 22, 2017. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  15. "The changing book world". The Japan Times. August 1, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  16. Heitzman, Kendall (June 3, 2016). "Chapter 20: The Rise of Women Writers, The Heisei I-Novel, and the Contemporary Bundan". In Rachael, Hutchinson; Morton, Leith Douglas. Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese Literature. Routledge. pp. 285–298. ISBN   9781317647720.
  17. 1 2 "Chuo Koron Literary Prize". Books from Japan. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  18. Onwuemezi, Natasha (June 2, 2017). "Darf signs Swiss and Japanese novels as it expands publishing remit". The Bookseller. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  19. Nakajima, Kyoko (June 5, 2016). "危機招いた男性型思考". Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  20. Nakajima, Kyoko (May 4, 2017). "憲法改正、今やることか?". Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  21. Tadashi, Kaneshiro (November 23, 2017). "「仕事の相談したらホテルに連れ込まれ…」 直木賞作家・中島京子さんが「#metoo」に参加した理由". AERAdot. (Asahi Shimbun) (in Japanese). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  22. Ito, Shiori (January 2, 2018). "Saying #MeToo in Japan". Politico. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  23. "著者インタビュー 中島京子さん". Rakuten Books (in Japanese). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  24. McDonald, Ian (April 24, 2014). "Translator's Note". Granta. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  25. "ちいさいおうち". 映画.com (in Japanese). Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  26. Nakajima, Kyoko (March 15, 2011). "Go, Japanese!". Granta. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  27. Nakajima, Kyoko (April 24, 2014). "Things Remembered and Things Forgotten". Granta. Translated by McDonald, Ian. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  28. Nakajima, Kyoko (March 1, 2015). "When My Wife Was a Shiitake". Words Without Borders. Translated by Tapley Takemori, Ginny. Retrieved June 16, 2018.