Naoyuki Ii

Naoyuki Ii 伊井直行

Naoyuki Ii  (1955–)  , a favorite of fellow authors Hiromi Kawakami and Yoriko Shono, has a reputation as a writer's writer. After graduating from Keio University, he worked for a time as an editor before winning the Gunzo Prize for New Writers in 1983 with Kusa no kanmuri (Crown of Grass), a novella about a cram-school student who is turned into a frog; the work was also a finalist for the Akutagawa Prize. In 1989 his Sashite juyo de nai ichinichi (A Day of No Particular Importance), a tale centering on a young office worker, earned him his third nomination for the Akutagawa Prize and garnered the Noma Prize for New Writers, establishing him firmly in the "pure literature" camp of Japanese letters. In 2000 he won the Yomiuri Prize for Literature for Nigotta gekiryu ni kakaru hashi (Bridge Over Muddy Waters). As exemplified by the novel The Shadow of a Blue Cat (tr. 2011), which relates the trials and tribulations of a 50-year-old salaryman restructured out of his job and turned entrepreneur, Ii's writing is firmly rooted in realism, yet intermixed with fanciful and humorous elements as well. His other works include Ai to iyashi to satsujin ni kaketa shosetsushu (Stories Devoid of Love, Healing, and Murder, 2006) and the lengthy imaginary-creature tale, Poketto no naka no rewaniwa (The Lewanewa in My Pocket, 2009).