Tokyo, Japan

Takuji Ichikawa: Why I wrote ‘The Refugees’ Daughter’

Poster as part of street art installation in Shoreditch in East London. Photograph: Red Circle Authors Limited.
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Takuji Ichikawa, November 2019

Currently our world faces many crises: climate change, famine due to floods and droughts, unprecedented wealth inequality, regional conflicts, terrorism, as well as the refugee crisis.

How should authors deal with and respond to this? What should the role of a novel be in this era?

My answer to these questions is The Refugees’ Daughter.

It is an example of a narrative, about the voiceless, the weak, the oppressed, and those who have been pushed to the side by the logic of power and the powerful. 

A tale of individuals who do not use their fists to fight or to beat people, but those who try to reach out to their neighbours with generosity and motherly love, with tolerance, compassion and non-violent acts.

I believe stories have the power to change the world. A single person or author cannot make a major difference.  But if one author becomes ten, or one hundred writers, or a thousand, there is a chance we can make a difference.

Another approach to describing this, one that reflects how I think about this, is that this is like a group of artists without borders, covering the world, reaching out creating an inspiring network that encourages and elicits action from both voters and consumers.

Novels contain lots of information and new perspective in a different way to music, for example. Perhaps expert storytellers, joined together, like runners forming a tag team in a relay race can create a brand new narrative. In this way, I believe we can provide the essential encouragement needed for the creation of a truly sustainable world.

The difference between narrative fiction and news is that it involves emotion and empathy. Information partaken alongside emotions is retained in our minds for long periods. And good entertainment propagates much faster and much more widely than inorganic reporting of news and events, and published academic research.

It is said, that narrative storytelling is even more important today in our so-called post-fact era.  I feel we need to use and create new narratives to compete with and resist the narratives that make us selfish, and are used on us to stimulate our desires as consumers.

If exceptionally informative information is combined with the highest level of entertainment things may start to change. Visualisation is important. We need to imagine a new world to create it.

Therefore film-makers and screenwriters need to be part of this group which I like to call Creatives Without Borders, and of course game-creators too. 

I am a writer of romances and fantasies so that is the type of tale I have written. I think, however, authors should create narratives crafted to make our world a better place in the style of their own respective storytelling genres. If this helps create a mega-hit like the Titanic, then surely change will happen. 

A simple modest light, like this, can shine out on and illuminate our world, which today is replete with stories of violence, pessimism, punishment and despair.

From tales of love and kindness, lit by stars, darkness will fade and our world will be filled with love and the laughter of children.

Takuji Ichikawa, November 2019 (translated by Richard Nathan), on why he wrote The Refugees’ Daughter published on 23 November as part of the series Red Circle Minis

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The Refugees’ Daughter by Takuji Ishikawa, the fourth book in the critically acclaimed series Red Circle Minis. Published 23 November 2019.

The Refugees’ Daughter, translated by Emily Balistrieri, is a magical modern parable that allows readers to sample and taste the issues that are of such importance to Ichikawa while gaining an insight into the worlds he imagines and creates as well as his narrative style.

The Refugees’ Daughter is being  published on 23 November 2019 in the critically acclaimed series of short Japanese books in English,  Red Circle Minis.

Takuji Ichikawa has also been working in parallel on a much longer full-length version of this story that explores these issues in full.

Takuji Ichikawa the multi-million selling Japanese author best known for his 2003 novel Be With You. Photograph: LITALICO.
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    About Red Circle:
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    • Takuji Ichikawa
      About Takuji Ichikawa:
      Takuji Ichikawa is an author who ignores traditional boundaries, and is impossible to pigeonhole; whose positive fantastical narratives touch the soul through storytelling that not only 'transforms and heals', but also sells in the millions.