Yu Miri is a South Korean Japanese writer, whose book translated into English, Tokyo Ueno Station, became a rage in UK bookshops within days of its release. She is also known as Miri Yu especially to the readers in the west.
Yu Miri was born on June 22nd 1968 in Yokohama to Korean parents. She was a novelist, essayist, playwright and an actor. Though a South Korean she wrote in Japanese. She dropped from high school because her life at home was not very happy. Her parents separated when she was five and she was molested a few times. She attempted to suicide for which she was sent out of the school. After dropping out from school, she joined a theatre group and worked as an assistant director and actress. Soon she began to write plays and they even got published in 1991. She began to write novels in the early 90s. She won few awards and the most prestigious award that she won was the Akutagawa Prize for her novel ‘KazokuShinema’ (Family Cinema). She wrote memoirs, edited literary works and contributed articles to a magazine, ‘en-taxi’. One of her best-selling memoir titled ‘Inochi’ was made into a movie. IshiniOyoguSakana (The Fish Swimming in the Stone) published in September 1994, a semi-autobiographical, ran into controversy. The man after whom one of the characters was modelled objected his portrayal and the book form of this novel, was stopped by a court order. After along drawn fight over courts a revised version of the book was published in 2002. Yu Miri now lives with her family in Minamisoma, Fukushima and runs a bookstore called Full House and a space for theatre called LaMaMa ODAKA in her Odaka District.
YuMiri speaks about the hypocrisies and darkness in the hearts of the people of modern Japan. Some of the themes in her works are the neglected children, high suicide rates and the problems of the people with uncertain national identity. The translator of the book,Tokyo Ueno Station, Morgan Giles carried this project with him for two years and finally his publishing house agreed to publish his translation – the rest is history. Morgan Giles states, “…..but the hardest thing in truth was maintaining the sense of tight emotional control in every single word. Miri’s prose in this novel is like a very cold, deep, clear lake; it never freezes and cracks. It took a lot of work to get the tone right, not too slack or taut.”
Popular works by the author
Another book of Yu Miri which was translated into English was ‘Gold Rush’.