Japanese Author – Yasunari Kawabata


Yasunari Kawabata (11 June 1899 – 16 April 1972) was the first Japanese writer to get the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 1968. His works were welcomed all over the world.


Yasunari Kawabata was born in Osaka, Japan to a doctor’s family. But that was the only good thing that happened to him. He lost his parents when he was four. He began to live with his paternal grandparents and by the age of fifteen Kawabata lost both his grandparents. He had to move in with his maternal grandparents. Kawabata was greatly influenced by Rabindranath Tagore another Nobel laureate from India.  In October 1924, he and a few young writers began a literary journal called ‘BungeiJidai’. It was movement against the existing literary practices which were anti-labourers. Soon after his graduation Kawabata’s works gained popularity and the story that received most acclaim was ‘The Dancing Girl of Izu’, published in 1926.Kawabata was the president of Japanese chapter of PEN which was a worldwide association of writers. During his tenure as the president between 1948 and 1968, many Japanese books were translated into English and other European languages. He received the Nobel Prize for his works ‘Snow Country’, ‘The Old Capital’ and ‘Thousand Cranes’. His death in 1972 was believed to be a suicide as he died by gassing. Some also think it was an accident.


YasunariKavabata’s work was influenced by European Expressionism and Cubism. Later in life he tried different styles of writing. Many observe that he had the heart of a poet. It was a combination of the lyricism seen in traditional literature of Japan and the modern styles. He said that his writing was similar to Haiku, a traditional poetry of Japan. Loneliness and death were recurring themes in his work. Many commentators say that there was a thematic shift in his writings after the Second World War. There are many stories that he left unfinished and this was done purposefully.  He felt that the incidents were more important than conclusions.

Popular works by the author

Some of his other poplar works were ‘Thousand Cranes’, ‘The Master of Go’, ‘Beauty and Sadness’, ‘The House of the Sleeping Beauties’.

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