Japan's Mieko Kawakami wants to 'stir things up'

yahoo.com -- Mar 25
Mieko Kawakami has called out cliched depictions of women by one of her country's most feted writers, and seen her own bold style attacked by a top politician.

But the award-winning Japanese author says she is happy to "stir things up" in her drive to depict the world as she sees it, as well as the experiences of people who might otherwise go unnoticed.

And it's a formula she's confident readers want.

"There is a growing desire to hear the real voices of Asian women," the 44-year-old told AFP, describing her desire to shed light on a broader sweep of Japanese society.

"(My focus) is the voices that would not be brought to the surface if they weren't written."

Kawakami shot to fame in her home country when "Breasts and Eggs", her second novel, was given Japan's most prestigious literary prize in 2008.

Not everyone was impressed by its experimental style, with Tokyo's then-governor, who is also a novelist and has often been critical of young Japanese writers, denouncing it as "unpleasant" and "self-centred rambling."

But her exploration of the discomfort and confusion women sometimes feel with their bodies was a big hit among the public.

A reworked and expanded version was published in English last year, becoming a fixture of the book club circuit and winning its author international acclaim.

- 'Not a feminist writer' -

Its dissection of sexuality and reproductive ethics has seen Kawakami cast a feminist writer. But that wasn't her intention.

"I'm a feminist, but I'm not a feminist writer," she said.

"I want to write about women as a part of humanity as a whole."

But she is critical of persistent inequalities in her society, slamming traditional gender roles in Japan she says are so ingrained that "it's hard to even put it into words."

"There's a social structure that makes it difficult for women to be independent," she argues.

- yahoo.com