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Abe, Mishima & Oe: Solving Your Existential Crises Since 1960

As a precaution to slow the spread of COVID-19, this event has been cancelled. We apologise for any inconvience caused.

Transformation. Protest. Repression. Identity.

1960s and 1970s Japan is a time of astonishing change. It is the period of Japan’s “economic miracle,” with GDP growing at more than 10% for much of the 1960s. It is a time of massive demographic shift as people from the countryside flood urban centres, causing cities like Tokyo to more than triple their population in twenty-five years. It is the end of the postwar, when Japan begins again to participate in the international community.

It is also a time of crisis. The government’s determination to renew the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty and extend US military presence in Japan leads to nationwide strikes and protests, both violent and peaceful. It is a time when many of Japan’s writers find themselves in the midst of a crisis of identity. The old Japan is gone, but it is not yet clear what will, or what should, take its place.

This talk will examine three giants of postwar Japanese literature—Kobo Abe (1924-1993), Yukio Mishima (1925-1970), and Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe (b. 1935)—and discuss how they sought to construct a philosophical and moral response to the upheaval and change that engulfed them.

A recommended reading list will be provided at the end of the session.

This is the first of three events in the talk series, Read Japan: A Booklover’s Guide to Japanese Literature in Translation, 1960-2020.

book iconAttendees will receive a 20% discount voucher from Books Kinokuniya Sydney, redeemable in-store, and will have a chance to win a Kinokuniya book pack themed around the reading list for this talk.


Mark Gibeau
Senior Lecturer, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University

Mark Gibeau teaches Japanese, literary translation, and Japanese literature. His primary specialty is Japanese literary translation, but his research interests also include the fantastic and the unreal, the New Japanese Literature Association and literature of the left in the immediate post-war period. His award-winning translation of Osamu Dazai’s Ningen shikkaku (1946) as A Shameful Life was published by Stonebridge Press in 2018. He has also published a range of translations of short stories, novellas and screenplays by Yasunari Kawabata, Junichiro Tanizaki, Shugoro Yamamoto, Sakumi Tayama, Kobo Abe and others. He is currently working on a translation of Kobo Abe’s 1964 historical novel Enomoto Būyō, tentatively titled The Traitor.



March 20, 2020 (Friday)
6:30pm-7:30pm (doors open 6pm)

Free; no bookings required.


Find out about the Read Japan series.


The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008


(02) 8239 0055

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