Kaori Ekuni 江國香織
Kaori Ekuni (1964–) is the daughter of essayist and haiku poet Shigeru Ekuni, and grew up writing poems and children’s stories. She studied for a year in the United States after finishing college, then returned to Japan and published her first children’s story, Kusanojō no hanashi (The Story of Kusanojō), which won the Little Children’s Story Prize in 1987. In 1989 she received the Japanese Prix Femina for 409 Radokurifu (409 Radcliff). She subsequently shifted to writing for the general reader and has taken home numerous prizes for both long and short fiction, beginning with the Murasaki Shikibu Literary Prize in 1992 for Kirakira hikaru (tr. Twinkle Twinkle, 2003). Her other award-winning works include the story collections Oyogu no ni anzen de mo tekisetsu de mo arimasen (Not Safe or Suitable for Swimming; Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, 2002), Gōkyū suru junbi wa dekite ita (I Was Already Prepared to Wail in Lament; Naoki Prize, 2004), and Inu to hamonika (Dog and Harmonica; Kawabata Yasunari Prize, 2012); and the novels Garakuta (Junk; Shimase Award for Love Stories, 2007), Mahiru nanoni kurai heya (A Dark Room Even in Daytime; Chuo Koron Literary Prize, 2010), and Yamori, kaeru, shijimichō (Geckos, Frogs, and Butterflies; Tanizaki Jun’ichirō Prize, 2015). Other highly regarded works include her masterful 2010 novel Hōyō, arui wa raisu ni wa shio o (To Embrace, or to Pour Salt on the Rice), Konpeitō no furu tokoro (Where It Rains Sugar Balls), Chōchin sode (Puff Sleeves), and Hadakanbō-tachi (Bare Naked Ones). A highly versatile writer, she changes her narrative voice and style at will to serve her purposes, and is admired for her ability to reveal the subtle emotional ups and downs of our quotidian lives in highly polished, evocative prose. She is also well known as a translator of English picture books into Japanese.