shinji ishii was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1966. After studying French literature at Kyoto University, he moved to Tokyo, where he worked as a magazine editor before publishing his first book, The Dogs of Amsterdam, in 1994. Once Upon a Swing, his debut novel, published in 2000, was hailed by critics as unique, marking the birth of a one-of-a-kind storyteller. He has since published twenty-one books of fiction and nonfiction, continuing his ascent in the literary world. In 2003, he won the Tsubota Literary Award for Kootse the Barley Stomper, which was also selected by the Ministry of Culture for translation. He has been nominated for the Mishima Award four times, including in 2009 for his most recent novel, Four Countries and Beyond. Befitting the worldview of his fablelike stories, he now splits his time between a turn-of-the-century geisha dormitory in Kyoto and a former sailors' inn in Misaki, a small harbor village on the Miura Hanto Peninsula wedged between Tokyo and the foothills of Mount Fuji.