Kenzaburō Ōe was a Nobel prize-winning Japanese author. Kenzaburo Oe is best known for the semi-autobiographical novel, A Personal Matter (1964), which reflects his personal experiences, including the birth of his disabled son. The novelist was a highly influential figure in contemporary Japanese literature whose works were deeply concerned with politics and issues such as nuclear disarmament and anti-authoritarianism.
Kenzaburo Oe was born in a small village on the island of Shikoku. The author's childhood was strongly affected by war, leaving a lasting impression on his later work. His landowning family lost much of their property during World War II.
Getting older, Ōe became more and more critical of the Japanese military and authority figures, such as the Emperor.
Ōe began his studies in French literature in 1954 at the University of Tokyo, publishing his first short story, Lavish are the Dead. By 1958, another of his short stories, The Catch, was awarded the Akutagawa Prize.
In the 1960s, Kenzaburo Oe faced death threats from members of the far-right due to the scathing criticism of his literary works. Despite this, his achievements during this period were significant. Ōe released his essay collection, Hiroshima Notes, which explored the plight of atomic-bomb victims. It coincided with the release of his novel Kojinteki-na taiken, where he delved into his experiences as a father of a disabled child. Both works received critical acclaim.
Kenzaburo Oe won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994 for his ability to use "poetic force to create an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today." He is the second Japanese Nobel laureate in Literature after Yasunari Kawabata.
His other notable works include Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids (1958), The Silent Cry (1967), The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away (1972), and Death by Water (2009).
In addition to his writing, Oe has also been active in politics, advocating for peace, nuclear disarmament, and the protection of human rights.
Kenzaburō Ōe passed away at age 88.