Picador has snared a “remarkable” trio of novels by acclaimed Japanese author Mieko Kawakami in a five-way auction.
Publisher Paul Baggaley and editor Kishani Widyaratna acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for the three novels Breasts and Eggs, Heaven and All The Lovers in The Night from Karolina Sutton at Curtis Brown, in association with Amanda Urban and Amelia Atlas at ICM.
Breasts and Eggs, described by Haruki Murakami as “so amazing it took my breath away”, will be published in April 2020. The book explores the inner conflicts of an adolescent girl, who refuses to communicate with her mother except through writing. The novella won the 2007 Akutagawa Prize, sold 250,000 copies in Japan and has been translated into Norwegian, Spanish, French, and several Asian languages. The new release extends the book into a narrative exploring broader themes of the ongoing repression of women in Japan and the possibility of liberation, poverty, domestic violence, and reproductive ethics
In 2009, the former singer-songwriter published Heaven, which won the Ministry of Education's Fine Arts Award for Debut Work, along with the Murasaki Shikibu Prize. Also selling over 250,000 copies, this novel established Kawakami's position in contemporary Japanese literature. In 2016, Granta selected Kawakami for its “Best of Young Japanese Novelists” list. The following year, she was selected as one of the 20 most exciting global talents in John Freeman’s Future of New Writing.
Kawakami said: "I couldn’t be more thrilled at the prospect of my work reaching new readers the world over. My latest novel, Breasts and Eggs, explores womanhood in contemporary Japan—especially gender and beauty norms and how time works on the female body. What does it look like for a woman to have a child outside of the framework of heterosexual partnership? What makes us want children in the first place? What does it mean to be born? We often talk about death being absolute, but I can’t help but think that being born is no less final.
"I’m confident that in the pages of this novel, you’ll find something that echoes your own life— the randomness, suddenness, and strangeness—and something fundamental to the human experience. I hope you’ll read it and decide for yourself."
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