Author nun finds new outlet in cellphone fiction

Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:12am EDT
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By Naoto Okamura

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Japan's best-known Buddhist nun is reaching out to a new audience by writing a mobile phone novel at the age of 86.

Jakucho Setouchi, a prolific writer and translator of 11th century epic romance "The Tale of Genji," is latching on to a publishing revolution -- short works of fiction distributed piecemeal by cellphone often become best-sellers in book form.

"At this age, there are few things that interest me. But it was the first time I had written a cellphone novel, and it was exciting," Setouchi was quoted by a local newspaper as saying.

The story, entitled "Tomorrow's Rainbow," is about a high-school girl who is deeply hurt by her parents' divorce, but finds the love of her life in a boy named Hikaru.

So far, 30 mobile novels, which are mostly tapped out as text messages and read by women in their teens and 20s, have gone on to be released in book form, selling 10 million copies in total.

The Wild Strawberry website, where Setouchi started writing her latest novel in May, has an average of 50,000 daily users, Shigeru Matsushima of Starts Publishing Corporation said.

Though targeting a young audience, Setouchi has incorporated sly references to "The Tale of Genji" in her cellphone novel.

Hikaru is the name of the serial seducer protagonist in "Genji." Setouchi uses the pen name Purple, borrowed from Genji's author, Murasaki Shikibu, which means "purple official."   Continued...