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Natsuko Kuroda was born in Tokyo in 1937, and graduated from the Japanese department at Waseda University’s School of Education. After working as a teacher, an administrator, and a copy editor, she made her literary debut with a b sango, which won the 2012 new writers’ competition held by Waseda Bungaku, Japan’s oldest literary magazine. Written horizontally across the page, avoiding the use of proper nouns and pronouns, and relying heavily on the hiragana syllabary instead of the more conventional, logographic kanji (Chinese characters), a b sango rejects prevailing conventions of fiction in its attempt to inhabit a new form. The work went on to win the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious literary prize, awarded to innovative new writing