Mieko Kawakami is pictured at the Edo-Tokyo Museum—a museum dedicated to exploring the history of Tokyo during the Edo (or Tokugawa) period from 1603 to 1868, commonly considered the last epoch of traditional Japan.

Mieko Kawakami Meet the rising author who already longs for obsolescence.

Mieko Kawakami Meet the rising author who already longs for obsolescence.

Issue 35

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Arts & Culture

  • Words Selena Hoy
  • Photograph Jun Yasui
  • Makeup Mieko Yoshioka

Mieko Kawakami writes about women and gender, but she wishes society would progress to a point where she didn’t have to. In 2008 she won the Akutagawa Prize, arguably Japan’s most prestigious literary award, for her novella Chichi to Ran, or Breasts and Eggs, which explores body image in modern Japan through the relationships between a girl, her mother and her aunt. Kawakami expanded the story into a novel, which will be published in English by Picador in spring 2020. When we meet under the spaceship-like shadow of the Edo-Tokyo museum, Haruki Murakami’s favorite young writer talks about the gender gap, memory and the Osaka dialect.

You’ve written about a nostalgia for your school years. What formative experiences from your youth have you carried into your writing?
Until I was ...

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