Kaoruko Himeno
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Who is Kaoruko Himeno?

Kaoruko Himeno About the author "Kaoruko Himeno"

Her career as a professioanal writer started
while she was still at university.
She had written movie critique,column,
short story,etc.on magazine.
1990 She visited 5 publishing companies
with her manuscript 'EVERYBODY CALL HER MISTUKO'.
The 5th company published this novel, since then
she is presenting many books.
Her style of writing is varied.
It ranges from comic stories to serious novels.

1997 Junan(The Passion) nominated for
117'th Naoki Prize;
2003 Tsu.i.ra.ku(F-A-L-L) nominated for
130'th Naoki Prize;
2006 Haruka Eihty nominated for
134'th Naoki Prize;
2010 The Real Chinderella nominated for
143'th Naoki Prize.

And in 2014 she won the 150'th Naoki Prize for shwa no inu (Parspective Kid).

Naoki Prize winner Kaoruko Himeno used humor to express her joy at receiving the prestigious literary award and didn't forget to entertain the crowd at a news conference on Jan. 16.

The 55-year-old writer appeared at a news conference wearing a black sweatshirt, black sweatpants and blue towel around her neck as she came straight from the gym after she received the news.

Himeno had been nominated for the prize, Japan's top award for a budding writer of popular literature, five times since her first nomination in 1997. "As an artist, it is an honor to be nominated many times, and as a businessperson, it is an honor to win because it would sell my book," Himeno said jokingly.

Both her working style and her stories can be characterized as pure, sarcastic, spiteful, and humorous. "When someone says, 'I want to be a writer,' that person can still do other things than writing. But real writers can't do anything but write," the prize winner said. Himeno had a vague idea of becoming a writer since she was a high school student.

Himeno has been taking breaks from writing recently because of illness and because she had to take care of her parents. Her prize winning work "Showa no inu" (A dog in the Showa era) is her first novel in three years. The story is about a woman who grew up in the postwar Showa era, who always had dogs by her side. Himeno, who loves dogs and had eight dogs at her parents' home, revealed it was a story depicting her life.

"I remembered some bad memories while writing this book, but pleasant memories of my dogs helped me finish it," she said.

Himeno used to laugh about herself, saying, "Being a story writer is a failure as a member of society. My pen name sounds so cheap, but it suits me." Her attitude towards her work, however, is sincere.

"I'm now confident that I can continue writing at my own pace. I want to write about things that interest me," she commented.

January 18, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Kaoruko Himeno writes fiction that is informed by a sharp sensibility and keen wit. The humor in her writings, in a class of its own, is not simple, easy-to-understand comedy. Indeed, Himeno scoffs at people's typical reactions and witheringly exposes the psychology of the general populace, which is drawn to whatever is simple-minded.
The pleasure of seeing her skewer her targets so deftly has brought her a wide audience. In 1990 she had a most fortunate literary debut when she took a manuscript to a publishing company and had it accepted for publication on the spot. However, because her pen name sounds like something out of shojo manga (comics for young girls), and because most of her work was described as "love stories," she went for years without receiving deserved critical acclaim.

Then in 1997, Junan (The Passion), the idea for which was taken from the life of St. Francis of Assisi, was nominated for the Naoki Prize, and her career took a significant turn.
The main character is Francesco, a woman in her thirties who was brought up in a convent and now lives a quiet life as a computer programmer, working from home. She is still a virgin. One day, a "boil with a human face" takes up residence in her pubic region; she names the boil "Mr. Koga." The boil turns out to be mean and abusive, mocking her daily for her lack of femininity, for Francesco has the power not only to make men impotent but also to ruin electric vibrators.
The exchanges between Francesco, who has absolutely no knowledge of sex, and Mr. Koga, who declares unequivocally that "a true woman stirs men's desire," are curiously dispassionate and amusing. Moreover, Mr. Koga's transformation from a human-faced boil to a bronze statue to a prince leads to a happy ending which, bizarre as it is, has a curiously refreshing and bracing effect.

In 2003 another of Himeno's works was nominated for the Naoki Prize. Tsu, i, ra, ku (A Fall), set in a conservative town in the Japanese countryside, follows the romantic life of Junko Morimoto, who was adopted by her uncle and aunt after the death of her parents. In school, Junko comes across as precocious, conceited, and unlikable.
On entering junior high, she encounters Kawamura, a twenty-three-year-old substitute teacher. At first they are at odds, but then something unexpected happens and they fall in love.
A romance between a fourteen-year-old girl and her teacher must be kept secret for obvious reasons, but indiscretion prevails. In the end Kawamura quits his job, and Junko leaves town as soon as she graduates.
Twenty years later, when all of that is a distant memory, the two have a fateful second encounter and fall again into love's deep crevasse. Not content to write a simple story of forbidden love, the author uses her trademark caustic wit to probe adolescent self-consciousness with grotesquery and humor, creating a masterpiece.

In 2006, a third Himeno novel was nominated for the Naoki Prize. Haruka eiti (Haruka at Eighty) is the story of a Haruka, a woman whose life spanned World War II. Born in 1920, Haruka enjoys a typical youth, graduates from normal school, and becomes a teacher, but like most young women of her generation she has an arranged marriage and quits her job.
When Japan enters World War II not long afterward, Haruka's life is swept up in the turbulence, but her character is stellar. Always positive in outlook, she sees the best in anyone. When her husband is unfaithful, instead of brooding, she dismisses it: "These things happen." But what sets her apart from others is her awakening in middle age to her own femininity, which she never relinquishes. Even at eighty, she is slender and sexually attractive, and men find her hard to resist. The story of her unapologetic lifestyle is one that women can aspire to, while the author's humorous comments scattered through the novel make this a memorable story.

*Junan (Bungei Shunju, 1997, 219 pages)
*Tsui, i, ra, ku (Kadokawa, 2003, 426 pages)
*Haruka eiti (Bungei Shunju, 2005, 480 pages)

The Japanese Literature Publishing and Promotion Center (J-Lit Center)