The Japanese publisher Kodansha has announced that the Japanese Nobel Prize for Literature winner Kenzaburo Oe died of natural causes at the age of 88 in the early hours of March 3.
Oe, born in Ehime Prefecture in 1935, studied French literature at the University of Tokyo and won the Nobel Prize in 1994 for his poetic power and ability to create worlds where life and myth condense to provide a disconcerting picture of the current human situation. Kenzaburo Oe is considered one of Japan’s most important novelists, and in his work he tirelessly denounced the violence inflicted on the weak and spoke out against the conformism of modern Japanese society.
In addition, he remained steadfast in his struggle as an advocate of the anti-nuclear cause and the pacifist Constitution of his country. He grew up in a remote village on the island of Shikoku, and his youth was darkened by World War II and the deadly propaganda of Japan’s militaristic regime inculcated in school. He won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 1958 for young authors for “Gibier d’Elevage.”
In 1963, the birth of his son Hikari with a cranial deformity and mental disability affected his personal life and gave a new impetus to his work. Oe wrote “A Personal Matter”, one of his most outstanding works of literature. His leap to fame would come with “Hiroshima Notebooks” (1965), an account of his trip to this southern Japanese city to interview the victims of the atomic bombing of 1945.
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