Japan writer wants world to see new face of Tokyo

Tue Dec 11, 2007 7:09pm EST
 
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) - In Japanese novelist Miyuki Miyabe's Tokyo, the moon hangs low over dark rivers, spiraling debt leads to murder, and a young woman roams the streets setting criminals afire with a single thought.

Miyabe has gone from being an office clerk who wrote only on weekends to becoming one of Japan's most popular, prolific and prize-winning authors with 46 novels to her name. Her works, which cover genres from horror, to fantasy, to historical fiction, have been translated into 11 languages.

Miyabe's popularity across Asia has not extended to the English speaking world, but her publisher hopes this will change with the release of the English translation of her novel "The Devil's Whisper," which contains Miyabe's characteristic use of rich, dark portraits of modern Japan and Tokyo.

The English-language release of "The Devil's Whisper" capitalizes on intense interest abroad in Japanese culture, including manga comics and anime films, as well as the works of internationally-renowned Japanese author Haruki Murakami.

"Tokyo has two faces. One is the one everyone knows: the economic power, the bright, shining place where all the political power gathers and all the people of strength come together," Miyabe, who rarely gives interviews, told Reuters recently.

"But there's another face, the place where ordinary people live. They can't take part in the beautiful Tokyo -- it's kind of scary to them -- but this is the Tokyo I write about."

Critics say her trademark city of working-class neighborhoods far from the glitter of the Ginza shopping area, provides something not found in the work of other authors.

"She brings society and social problems into her works, but she also shows a world of social ties and obligations that has largely disappeared -- even while she writes about crimes," said mystery story critic Shinta Nakagami.   Continued...

 
<p>Japanese novelist Miyuki Miyabe speaks during an with Reuters in Tokyo November 26, 2007. Miyabe has gone from being an office clerk who wrote only on weekends to becoming one of Japan's most popular, prolific and prize-winning authors with 46 novels to her name. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>