Yukio Mishima (1925-1970) is known for many things including killing himself and being nominated multiple times for the Nobel Prize in Literature and never winning. In his short writing life (around 21 years), Mishima was highly prolific publishing 40 novels, translations including a translation of Alice in Wonderland and many plays. He also wrote for both highbrow and popular audiences.
In 1968 the year Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) become the first Japanese author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mishima’s novel Life for Sale, Inochi urimasu, described by critics as ‘an exhilarating piece of quirky fiction’ was published in serial format, in 21 installments, in Weekly Playboy, a Japanese adult magazine.
The work is an absurd and dark satire written in the style of a noire crime fiction thriller, sprinkled with some eroticism. Its lead character is an advertising copywriter, called Hanoi Yamada, who after attempting suicide puts his life up for sale.
Weekly Playboy was launched in 1966 in Japan by the manga and magazine publishing house Shueisha, a sister company of Viz Media the largest US publisher of manga and graphic novels, and is still in print today.
In addition to the photography, Weekly Playboy also publishes serialised fiction, which has a long tradition in Japan.
Life for Sale was subsequently published in book format on Christmas day in 1968 and much later adapted for television in Japan, as a six episode drama by Amazon Prime. An English translation by Stephen Dodd was published in 2019.