Hiroko Oyamada

Portrait Hiroko Oyamada
© Shinchosha

Hiroko Oyamada was born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1983. She studied Japanese language and literature at the university there. After graduating, she worked many jobs, including one as a temporary worker at a car manufacturer. This experience served as inspiration for her novel »Kōjō« (2013; Eng. »The Factory«, 2019), which was awarded the Shinchō Prize for New Writers and the Oda Sakunosuke Prize.

»Kōjō« revolves around the absurdity and meaninglessness of the modern working world. Three figures go about their jobs in an industrial factory: a woman shreds paper, her brother proofreads documents, and another man examines the moss that grows on the site. Gradually, the boundaries of reality seem to blur: where does the factory end and where does the rest of the world begin? And what is the purpose of the work itself? »In Oyamada’s bleak world, our work creates a sense of isolation that grows as routines develop. In quiet exasperation, the characters start to ask themselves not what they do for the factory but what the factory does to them« (»The New Yorker«). For her second novel »Ana« (2013; Eng. »The Hole«, 2020), Oyamada received the Akutagawa Prize, which is considered one of the most important literary awards in Japan. Jury member Hiromi Kawakami emphasized the author’s ability to embed fantastic events in a realistic setting: After moving, Asa finds herself living next door to her in-laws. While her husband is busy with his work, Asa has to get used to her new surroundings. One day, she runs into a strange creature and follows it to the bank of a river – where she falls into a hole that was apparently made just for her. This is the prelude to a series of bizarre events that make Asa doubt her sanity and make her question her role in this world. The short story collection »Niwa« (tr: Garden) was published in 2018.

Hiroko Oyamada lives with her family in Hiroshima.