Japanese literature is now very much accessible to English-speaking audiences. Thanks to the efforts of translators and publishers. You can't go wrong with listening to audiobooks from Japan if you want to learn more about Japanese culture and literature. We've collected a list of the most well-known Japanese authors and their important works who have helped define Japanese literature. These Japanese authors have written in a variety of genres and chronological periods, resulting in a broad and fascinating body of work.
1. Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami is the author of more than 20 books, including novels, short story collections, and nonfiction works. Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and released his first novel in 1979, the same year he had an epiphany while watching a baseball game at Jingu Stadium: "I think I can write a novel." He went on to have an illustrious career, earning prizes both in Japan and abroad, including the Jerusalem Prize.
2. Natsuo Kirino
Natsuo Kirino is a crime novelist who is well recognised for making readers question women's ability to commit violence. She was born in 1951 and tried her hand at a variety of jobs before deciding on writing, which she did not find success with until the 1990s. Out, her most well-known work, was a smash bestseller in Japan, receiving the Grand Prix for Crime Fiction, and was a nominee for the Edgar Award when translated into English.
3. Kōbō Abe
In his early years, he went back and forth between Tokyo and Manchuria. This sense of disconnection had a tremendous impact on Abe and, later, his literature. Because medical students were exempt from military service, he enrolled in medical school in 1943 and survived World War II without having to serve. However, medicine was not his calling, and after graduating, he went on to write poetry and plays, as well as marry a theatre director.
4. Banana Yoshimoto
Banana Yoshimoto is a well-known writer who was born in 1964 to a liberal family of artists and authors. Her first novel, Kitchen, was published while she was only 23 years old. It was well-received, earning her the 6th Kaien Newcomers' Literary Prize as well as national and international acclaim. She went on to publish 12 additional novels and essay collections, and her work was adapted into TV series and films in Japan. Yoshimoto's art frequently explores adolescence, existentialism, and the impact of tragedy on our lives. She is also a foodie (as her given name, Banana, suggests) and has been commended for her unpretentious writing.
5. Yoko Ogawa
Yoko Ogawa, a Japanese author, was born in 1962 and has written over 40 works of fiction and nonfiction. Only a small fraction of her work, including The Professor and the Housekeeper, a novel released in 2003 that was made into a film titled The Professor's Beloved Equation, and Revenge, a collection of terrifying short stories, is available in English. Despite being published in the 1990s, her most recent work to be translated into English is The Memory Police, a science-fiction novel about a novelist who lives on an island where an authoritarian dictatorship prevails and objects vanish.
6. Sayaka Murata
Sayaka Murata has authored eleven books that are quite popular in Japan, despite the fact that she only has one book available in English. She was born in 1979 and was an early and passionate reader of science fiction and mysteries, and her mother encouraged her writing by purchasing a word processor for her when she was a child. She initially published in 2003 and soon began winning accolades.
7. Yukio Mishima
Yukio Mishima is a controversial person who is often recognised as one of the most prominent Japanese writers of the twentieth century. He was born in 1925 and had an unusual background. His father was not supportive of his early literary pursuits, despite his mother's encouragement. He went on to write 34 novels, 50 plays, and innumerable short tales, all of which he published.
8. Ryū Murakami
Haruki Murakami isn't the only well-known Japanese author with the surname Murakami. Ry Murakami, who was born in 1952, has had a varied career that includes more than just publishing books. He's played in bands, worked as an independent filmmaker, and created an online magazine in 1999 that is still going strong. He has also hosted a discussion show and launched a video streaming and ebook service.
9. Keigo Higashino
Keigo Higashino, who was born in 1958, is one of Asia's most well-known mystery novelists. He went to college to study electrical engineering, but he began writing in high school and hasn't stopped since. He would write on nights and weekends after school and submit his stories to the Edogawa Rampo Prize, even while working as an engineer.
10. Kanae Minato
Kanae Minato is well-known in Japan for her intrigue and thrillers, and she has been dubbed the "Queen of Iyamisu Novels," a title that loosely translates to "Eww!" novels. Minato, who was born in 1979 and began composing when she was in her 30s, had a huge hit with her debut, Confessions. She's authored 14 novels since then, but only Confessions and Penance have been translated into English and made available in the United States.