Writer Yu Miri named Berkeley Japan Prize winner

Photo: Yu Miri

Japanese-born Korean writer Yu Miri, who lives in the Odaka district of Minamisoma city, Fukushima Prefecture, has been chosen to receive the "Berkeley Japan Prize" for contributing to globally propagating Japanese culture. The prize was inaugurated in 2008 by the Center for Japanese Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Yu, 54, is the fifth Japan-based recipient of the honor following writer Haruki Murakami, movie director Hayao Miyazaki, musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, and physicist and Nobel laureate Takaaki Kajita. An award ceremony is scheduled for Sept. 30 (Oct. 1 JST) in the United States. Yu's selection for the award was revealed on Sept. 12 by Kawade Shobo Shinsha Ltd., which publishes her books. On her selection, the publisher quoted the prize's sponsor as saying in reference to her works "The End of August" and "Tokyo Ueno Station": "Although these works have many descriptions of people who are facing severe realities and left in extreme situations, there is an undercurrent of hope to them, and she continues to send out strong messages from Japan to the rest of the world toward building a society that would respect the freedom of individuals with diversity, equality and inclusiveness." It is the second time for Yu to receive an overseas award and first since she was granted the 2020 National Book Award for Translated Literature, also a U.S. honor, for "Tokyo Ueno Station." Yu moved from Kamakura city, Kanagawa Prefecture, to Minamisoma in 2015. She runs a bookstore cafe called "Full House" at her home. Currently, she is writing two serial novels for Japanese literature magazines -- "JR Joban-sen Yonomori-eki" (Yonomori Station on JR Joban Line) and "Diamond Vision." (Translated by Kyodo News)