Taiwanese Author Shortlisted for Japan’s Akutagawa Prize

akutagawa prize
Taiwan-born author Li Kotomi has been nominated for the Akutagawa Prize in Japan. Photo courtesy Unitas Udngroup

Li Kotomi (李琴峰, Li Qinfeng), a Taiwan-born Japanese author and translator, has been shortlisted for Japan’s 161st Akutagawa Prize for her story “五つ数えれば三日月が.” The story follows a Taiwanese lesbian working in Japan and the 10 hours she spends reunited in Tokyo with a Japanese woman working in Taiwan. The story reflects on sexuality as well as national identity and language barriers. Li includes two original poems her story to create a different literary form in Japanese.

Ms. Li also won Japan’s Gunzo New Writers’ Prize in 2017 for her debut novel Hitorimai (独り舞), which has been translated into Chinese.

Born in Taiwan in 1989, Li began learning Japanese at the age of 15. She moved to Japan to work on her master’s degree and worked in the country until she was 27 and wrote her first novel in Japanese. She said that she may return to writing stories and novels in Chinese first rather than translating from Japanese, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

A semi-annual literary prize that began in 1935, the Akutagawa Prize is one of Japan’s highest honors for emerging writers published in a newspaper or magazine. The prize, which awards the winner a watch and ¥1 million (US$9,200), is sponsored by the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Literature.

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