Natsuo Kirino 桐野夏生
Natsuo Kirino (1951–) began her career writing romance novels but soon revealed her talent for mysteries, receiving the 1993 Edogawa Rampo Prize for her novel Kao ni furikakaru ame (Rain Falling on My Face), which stars a hardboiled female detective. Her breakthrough came with Out (1997, tr. 2004), a shocker about four ordinary housewives working part-time at a lunch-packing factory who cooperate in a murder and dismember the body. The novel not only won the Mystery Writers of Japan Award but in 2004 became the first Japanese work nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for the Edgar Allan Poe Award in the category of best novel. In addition to zeroing in on aging, young unemployment, and other contemporary social issues in novels such as Tamamoe! (Awakening, 2005) and Metabora (Metabola, 2007), Kirino has recently broken new ground with works blending fiction and fact, including the Tanizaki Jun'ichiro Prize winner Tokyojima (Tokyo Island, 2008), which is based on a real-life castaway incident from the late 1940s, and the Yomiuri Prize for Literature winner Nanika aru (Something There, 2010) about the novelist Fumiko Hayashi.