Natsuko Kuroda, 75 year old woman, won the 148th Akutagawa prize on 16th of January. I was surprised to hear the news because the Akutagawa prize is for promising newcomer writers in literature. Seventy five year old is the oldest in the 80-year-history of the award.
Kuroda is more than just an old lady. She seems to be beyond her age. To be exact, she is beyond our common notion of what old women should be. She is still youthful. Besides, there is something very different about her.
She started creating stories at the tender age of 5. Since then she has been writing novels just because she likes doing it. It didn’t matter to her at all whether her novels won a prize of not. She was just in pursuit of whatever she wanted to express and she wasn’t even interested in the awards wining games.
She answered some questions after wining the prize.
“When I turned 70s, I started thinking that it would be very nice if I had readers who enjoy my novels. That’s why I decided to apply for the prize again for the first time in 40 years.” She added. ”Thank you for finding my work while I’m alive.”
Her prize-wining novel, “Ab Sango” is very unique and challenging in its writing style. It depicts without using individual names or pronouns the memories of a child. And it adapts horizontal writing instead of vertical as Japanese is usually written.
However, it’s not just play on words, rather she is a true professional in the Japanese language. She used to be a proofreader for a magazine, Mari Clare Japon, which I sometimes wrote fashion articles as a freelance writer. It’s so fun to imagine her checking and correcting what I wrote.
In Japan, we are heading toward the aging society and now companies and marketers are starting to focus on so-called “senior” people, who are forming a big promising market. But we should know that they are not stereotyped senior people, but rather, they might be a new type of old people like Kuroda. Old people are changing here.
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