The Asahi reports today that Tawada Yoko has won the 64th Noma Literary Prize for her novel 雪の練習生 (“Students of the Snow”).
I know we cover a lot of awards around here at Junbungaku, but this is definitely one that matters. It’s been around since the 1940s, established in honor of the founder of Kodansha, and has a cash prize of 3 million yen. It’s definitely up there with the Akutagawa in terms of literary merit.
“Students of the Snow” was in fact highlighted earlier this year by Japan Book News, a magazine published quarterly by the Japan Foundation. “Students of the Snow” follows three generations of polar bears, one of whom, for instance, joins the circus, writes her own autobiography, and becomes a famous writer.
If you’ve read Tawada, you’ll know this is definitely right up her surrealist alley. Luckily (and deservedly), she has been frequently translated into English: check out Where Europe Ends, The Bridegroom Was a Dog, The Naked Eye, and Facing the Bridge. Tawada is also a winner of the Akutagawa and the Tanizaki Prizes, and frequently writes in German as well.
In other Noma- related prizes, the 33rd Noma Literary Newcomer’s Prize was awarded to Motoya Yukiko for ぬるい毒 (“Slow Poison”), who will also receive a 1 million yen prize, and the 49th Noma Literary Children’s Prize goes to Tomiyasu Yoko for 盆まねき (“Invitation to the O-Bon Festival”). She will receive a 2 million yen prize.