Japan’s Akutagwa Prize Winner Foumiko (Fumiko) Kometani of Los Angeles will appear on Saturday, April 12, from 4:00 – 5:00 pm at the Kinokuniya Bookstore Kiosk (#84) on the University of Southern California campus during the LA Times Festival of Books.
Ms. Kometani will sign her new English book “Wasabi for Breakfast: Two Novels” published by Dalkey Archives Press. “Wasabi for Breakfast” is an English translation of her Japanese novel “Family Business” (1998).
In 1986, Ms. Kometani’s Japanese novel “Sugikoshi no matsuri” (Pass Over) won the Akutagawa Prize which is considered Japan’s most prestigious literary award.
Ms. Kometani also received the Women’s Literary Prize for the best fiction of the year 1998 for “Family Business.”
The German edition of “Family Business” was published first in 2011 under the title “Wasabi zum Fruhstuch.” Ms. Kometani liked the title so much that she applied it to the English edition as “Wasabi for Breakfast.”
English and German translations of “Family Business” were funded by Japan’s ministry of education because the book was designated as a modern classic of Japanese literature.
“Wasabi for Breakfast” consisting of “Family Business” and “1001 Raging Fires” reintroduces Ms. Kometani’s uniquely humorous voice to American readers.
Ms. Kometani is rare among Japanese writers and cultural commentators in that she has lived in the United States for most of her adult life, bringing an outsider’s — and woman’s — perspective to both her adopted home and her native Japan.
She lives her life in between cultures, and mines that gap to provide a thoroughly modern take on both societies.
In “Family Business,” Megumi, a longtime resident of the United States, returns to Japan to visit her 87-year-old mother. After so many years living abroad, Megumi is almost as befuddled by the exotic intricacies of contemporary Japan as a foreigner. When her nephew runs away from home, and her elderly mother gives chase, Megumi sets off on a road trip through modern Japan — and her own past.
“1001 Raging Fires” chronicles a Japanese woman living in California during the 1992 Rodney King riots and struggling to come to terms with being an outcast from a society that itself seems to be self-immolating. Yu learns the real price of exclusion is that which your own family makes you pay.
“Wasabi for Breakfast: Two Novels” has received glowing reviews including the Publishers’ Weekly.