The first interview in the series launched last month, which asks authors about writing and reading, covers Shiraishi’s relationship with his father, also a Naoki prize-winning author, as well as newly published books, reading recommendations and much more.
Apparently, Shiraishi decided to start writing novels, as he wanted to understand his father better, and thought, following a particularly vivid dream, which seemed like a premonition, that he would never live past the age of 42.
Born in 1958, Shiraishi is now in his 60s. The fleeting nature of life is, however, still on his mind. Nonetheless, despite regular panic attacks this doesn’t seem to be holding him back creatively. He continues to write books and have his work serialised in major Japanese newspapers.
In the interview Shiraishi says that writing his most recent novel, Can’t Write A Novel Without You, Kimi ga inaito shosetsu wa kakenai, published in January this year by Shinchosha, was triggered by his attendance at the memorial service of a former colleague, which was particularly sad and something he very rarely does.
The former colleague and Shiraishi had worked together at the publisher Bungeishunju for 20 years, and the unexpected death and Shiraishi’s participation in the memorial service brought back many memories.
Shiraishi, says he found out from writing this latest novel that his older memories of people who played a part in his early life seem to be so much more intense than those of more recent times. The people of the past are stored like resumes in a cabinet in his mind, he says, and when he draws on them – “reading them” -memories come flooding back.
In Can’t Write A Novel Without You, an ‘autobiographical’ novel and Shiraishi’s most personal work to-date, Shiraishi, who is known for penning deeply thoughtful books about love, life and the human condition, reflects on the life of an author, Hogo Nonomura, the son of a novelist like Shiraishi himself whose father also won the Naoki prize, and his career as a writer and novelist.
Can’t Write A Novel Without You, however, isn’t the only new book by Shiraishi published this year. Last month, Koharu and Chiharu the first children’s book written by Shiraishi was published by Iwasaki Shoten with illustrations by Heisuke Kitazawa.
In the interview Shiraishi recommends three of his books, all published by different publishers: Accomplishment (Kaikyo), 100 Million Yen Sayonara (Ichiokuen no Sayounara), as well as his latest work Can’t Write A Novel Without You. He also discusses why he writes and writing novels in the era of social media, when everyone can publish their writing.
Despite Kateigaho’s prestige and pedigree the publication is in fact a rather new magazine as far as Japanese magazines are concerned. It was launched in 1958, the year of Shiraishi’s birth.
Nonetheless, it is a major trendsetter and highly influential in terms of anything related to Japanese style and culture, and now also has an international English language edition, published twice a year in March and September. Launching this new series with an interview like this with Shiraishi is expected to delight Japan’s literati as well as the magazine’s large readership in Japan.
Part one and two of the interview can be read online in Japanese on Kateigaho’s website: Part 1, Part 2.
- About Red Circle:Red Circle Authors Limited is a specialist publishing and communications company that conducts bespoke projects on behalf of a carefully selected and curated group of leading Japanese authors. Red Circle showcases Japan’s best creative writing. For more information on Red Circle, Japanese literature, and Red Circle authors please visit: www.redcircleauthors.com.