I know that this book received tons of attention in Japan when it, along with Wataya Risa’s Keritai Senaka was awarded the prestigious Akutagawa Prize in early 2004, but after reading it in Bungei Shunju that March, my initial impresison was (and for the most part still is): publicity stunt.
Reading this recent post over at Japundit hasn’t given me cause for greater optimism. I know we’re admonished not to judge a book by it’s cover, but when a 13 year old kid wins a national literary award for a work called Kono Misteri ga sugoi, it’s time to start asking questions about the national intelligence quotient.
I think it is a wonderful idea to encourage the budding literary talents of Japanese youth, but are you telling me that the best Japan has to offer is in the first grade? At least one person seems to think so. The post links to a Yomiuri story (Aptly titled “Teen writers steal spotlight / Veterans worried publishers putting businessbefore talent”) has Shinji Inagaki, chief editor of Shogakukan’s literature section saying this:
“Young people in their teens and 20s, who have been said to be aliterate, are actually quite adept at reading and writing text messages on their cell phone. Their desire for creativity is strong,” he said.
Text messaging = creative drive???!!!
Fortunately, not everyone in the entire Japanese population appears quite so deluded as suggested by the article’s mention of declining sales figures. Let’s hope this trend, like most others in Japan, is short lived.