Kyoko Nakajima (1964–) loved books from a young age, perhaps not surprisingly, since her parents are both translators and scholars of French literature. She first produced something like a novel when she was in middle school, although her professional debut did not come until many years and twists later: joining a publishing company after college, she then quit and studied in the United States for a year before becoming a freelance writer and turning back to fiction. In 2003 Nakajima found a publisher for her debut work, Futon, a novel based on the modern classic of the same name by Katai Tayama. Chiisai ouchi (The Little House) won the Naoki Prize in 2010. Other works include Ito no koi (Ito’s Love, 2005), which takes inspiration from the nineteenth-century British travel writer Isabella Bird, and Heisei dai kazoku (One Big Family in the Heisei Era, 2008), about a modern-day family of eight spread over four generations.
Photograph © Hisaaki Mihara