Kazuki Kaneshiro*

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Contemporary Japanese Writers

Kazuki Kaneshiro*

Kazuki Kaneshiro* 金城一紀

Kazuki Kaneshiro  (1968–)  , a zainichi Korean―that is, a Japanese resident of Korean ethnicity―with a law degree from Keio University, kicked off his professional writing career in 1998 by winning the Shōsetsu Gendai Prize for New Writers for Revoryūshon No. 3 (Revolution No. 3). Along with Furai, dadi, furai (Fly, Daddy, Fly) and Speed, the novel is part of the "Zombies" series, named after a group of teenagers in a high school for underachievers. In 2000, Kaneshiro won the Naoki Prize for Go, which was extremely popular among younger readers and was later adapted for film. In fact, most of Kaneshiro's works have been made into films or manga, suggesting their wide appeal.

In Go, Sugihara, a third-generation zainichi Korean in his last year of high school, falls in love with a Japanese girl named Sakurai. His life has been characterized until then by fights and discrimination owing to his ethnicity. The two young people go on awkward dates together, becoming gradually closer, but Sugihara cannot bring himself to tell her that he is a zainichi Korean. When the one person whom Sugihara truly respects, a fellow zainichi Korean, is stabbed to death at a train station, Sugihara opens up to Sakurai about his background. Her attitude toward him undergoes a complete about-face, demoralizing Sugihara and causing him to take out his anger on his father. He vows to himself to create a world where citizenship and ethnicity do not matter. Six months later, on Christmas Eve, Sugihara receives a phone call from Sakurai; she apologizes and says she has gotten rid of her prejudice. The two get back together.

The protagonist of the novel Fly, Daddy, Fly is Hajime Suzuki, a salaryman with a home in the suburbs. One day his daughter is injured by Ishihara, a boy in her high school who is a championship boxer and also the son of a member of the House of Representatives. Enraged at Ishihara's lack of remorse, Suzuki grabs a carving knife and goes after him―but ends up in the wrong high school by mistake. There he meets Park Sun-sin, who tells Suzuki to get revenge with his own strength and teaches him techniques of bare-handed fighting. Suzuki takes 40 days of leave to get himself into shape. Then comes the crucial moment. Openly challenging the boxer to a fight, Suzuki achieves a great victory. He feels that for the first time he has acted like a father.

In Hana (Flowers), one of the three novellas in Taiwahen (Dialogue), a man named Nozaki learns he has a dangerous aneurysm but that surgery could result in extensive memory loss. A lawyer named Torigoe, famous for having lodged a complaint of false accusation, offers to pay Nozaki if he would accompany him on a drive to Kagoshima, where he has been asked by a hospice to pick up the belongings of his deceased ex-wife, Keiko. Torigoe and Keiko had taken the same trip years before, and by retracing his steps, he retrieves memories of her. Among Keiko's belongings at the hospice, Nozaki finds a scrapbook filled with articles of Nozaki's famous case, and he realizes that, despite their separation, her thoughts were always with him. An orderly takes them out to the flower garden, which is full of pale purple flowers. Torigoe remembers that he once gave a bouquet of the same flowers to Keiko; they are forget-me-nots. Realizing the message of the blossoms, the two men stand weeping.

* Go (Kodansha, 2000, 241 pages, Naoki Prize)
* Furai, dadi, furai (Kodansha, 2003, 245 pages)
* Taiwahen (Kodansha, 2003, 221 pages)