The Akutagawa Prize Reading Challenge

I have only read むらさきのスカートの女 and Convenience Store Woman (in English) and I liked them both. What I really appreciate is that they weren’t ‘preachy’, like a lot of modern books. Because of that I liked the characters a lot.


You may like おいしいごはんが食べられますように or 破局 then since the author leaves things a little ambiguous and up to your own interpretation. ハンチバック was also great but slightly more “preachy” in the sense that the author made it overt what topics she was writing about. But there is still a lot for me to think about and interpret after reading the book and I don’t have a negative feeling at all like I would when a book is preachy.

ETA: Also check out 穴. I personally didn’t enjoy it but I can see how others might, and it has an English translation if you want to dual read. :slightly_smiling_face:

I know what you mean though, these days a lot of books published in the Anglosphere are a bit on the nose in terms of the message.


Thank you! I’ll check them :+1:

I live in a very sexist country, so even the “preachy” ones are welcomed by me :sweat_smile:. It’s just that with limited time and money if I have to choose one book, I prefer to read one that gives me more space to think and figure things out for myself, and is less ‘loud’.


I am curious what word autocorrect got confused with here. :rofl:


“can”? But I don’t see how.

I personally liked 穴 very much, but I can see how others might not. :grin:


Confused? :thinking: For me this means “I (being Texan)” or “for me (as a Texan)” but maybe I’m wrong after all :sweat_smile:

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Why would being Texan affect one’s enjoyment of a book? :thinking:


Lol :joy: it was “can” and a tragic accident caused by the swipe functionality on my mobile keyboard. Corrected now haha!


I love autocorrect mistakes. They amuse me. Maybe I am too easily amused, but I get enjoyment out of them. :sweat_smile:


Because different nationalities and/or surroundings imply different world views and opinions and tastes, was my take :rofl: Like, I sometimes enjoy other things than people from other countries. :woman_shrugging: But yeah, there was a much easier answer :grin:

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: Now I’m curious: Are you Texan after all? :exploding_head:


I am not and I’m not even sure I’ve ever typed that word on my phone before so I’m not sure how it ended up in my autocorrect! :joy: I am glad this has brought so much amusement, though.


One of the booktubers I follow posted a video introducing all of the winners since 2020, so I thought I’d share in case anyone is interested. :slightly_smiling_face:


I finished reading 貝に続く場所にて | L41, the winner from 2021年上半期! Will share my spontaneous review here :blush:

Rating: :star::star::star::star:

貝に続く場所にて deals with the topic of memory, both individual and collective, death and loss, and distance. The narrator is an art history student from Sendai living in Göttingen and working on her doctoral thesis. She lived through the earthquake in 2011 and lost her sempai to the tsunami, but hasn’t processed her feelings about that time or his death. Suddenly he contacts her one day to let her know that he is coming to Göttingen, and they reunite for the first time in nine years. After his arrival, time begins to warp and strange things start happening all over the town…

This is one of the most complex Akutagawa books I’ve read so far, not necessarily from a language standpoint, but from a literary standpoint. The story is filled with symbolism and metaphors and reading it felt like slowly piecing together a puzzle, working from the border pieces inwards as I slowly got more info. Despite being somewhat dense, the prose was beautiful and a pleasure to read. 石沢麻衣, being an art historian herself (I believe?), incorporates this background into her writing, describing the settings and actions almost like a painting, with special care given to light, color and contrast. While the storyline takes an abstract turn towards the end, the descriptive language ensured that I could still keep a visual grasp of the unfolding events, which I found impressive. All in all, I’m not sure if I had fun reading the book, but it was an experience and the ideas presented in it were fully explored in a way that created an emotional catharsis at the end.

This contained a lot of specialized vocabulary related to astronomy and art history, specifically medieval European religious artwork and saints, which could make this challenging for most readers here. So, I’m not sure I’d recommend this for anyone who wants to casually read an Akutagawa prize book. If you’re looking for something to really dig into though, this may be an interesting one for you.