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Ayako Sono

Born 17 September 1931(1931-09-17)
Minami-Katsushika, Tokyo
Education University of the Sacred Heart
Notable work(s) Tamayura (たまゆら)
Enrai no kyaku tachi (遠来の客たち)

Ayako Sono(曽野綾子 or 曾野綾子, Sono Ayako (born in Tokyo on September 17 (Shōwa 6) 1931) is a Catholic Japanese writer. Her baptismal name is Maria Elisabet.

She went to the Catholic Sacred Heart School in Tokyo after elementary school. During World War II, she evacuated to Kanazawa. After writing for the fanzines La Mancha and Shin-Shicho (新思潮: New Thought), she was recommended by Masao Yamakawa, an established critic at the time, to Mita Bungaku, for which she wrote Enrai No Kyaku Tachi (遠来の客たち: Visitors from Afar), one of the shortlisted stories for the Akutagawa Prize in 1954. That piece attracted a considerable attention due to the heroine girl’s lighthearted attitude toward the occupation forces. The year next, she was married to Shumon Miura (三浦 朱門), one of the members of Shin-Shicho. They are famous for their happy marriage. She continued producing many works, until she started suffering from depression. She had safely recovered from the crisis.

The naming of “the Bas Bleu Era” (才女時代: Saijo-Jidai) by the writer and critic Yoshimi Usui famously described the prosperous activities of female writers including Sono or Sawako Ariyoshi—one of her contemporary who had published many reputable books that are still being read.

In the history of Japanese literature, Sono belongs to the category of “the Third Generation” together with Shusaku Endo, Shotaro Yasuoka, Junnosuke Yoshiyuki, Kojima Nobuo, Junzo Shono, Keitaro Kondo, Hiroyuki Agawa, Syumon Miura, Tan Onuma, and Toshio Shimao.

Contents

Works

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Novels

Her major novels include

  • Tamayura (たまゆら: Transience), which portrays the nihilistic daily life of man and woman
  • Satō-gashi-ga-kowareru-toki (砂糖菓子が壊れるとき: When a Sweetmeat Breaks), modeled on Marilyn Monroe and made into a film starring Ayako Wakao (IMDb)
  • Mumeihi (無名碑: A Nameless Monument), featuring the construction sites of the Tagokura Dam and the Asian Highway
  • Kizu-tsuita-ashi (傷ついた葦: Bruised Reed), which describes in a most dry style a life of a Catholic Father
  • Kyokō-no-ie (虚構の家: The House of Fiction), a bestseller depicting domestic violence
  • Tarō-Monogatari (太郎物語: Taro Story), which features her son Taro as the protagonist
  • Kami-No-Yogoreta-Te (神の汚れた手: The Soiled Hands of God, translated into English as The Watcher from the Shore (ISBN 0-87011-938-9)), on the theme abortion and dignity of life problems, with a gynecologist as the protagonist
  • Tenjō-no-ao (天上の青: Heavenly Blue, translated into English as No Reason for Murder (ISBN 4-925080-63-6), a crime novel based on real serial murder and rape cases by a man named Kiyoshi Ōkubo, which tries to describe the extremity of love
  • Kyō-ō-Herode (狂王ヘロデ: Herod the Mad), which portrays the half life of Herod the Great, who is notorious for the Massacre of the Innocents, through the eye of a mute lute player called "Ana" (hole).
  • Aika (哀歌: Lamentations), a record of the dramatic experience of a nun Haruna, who encountered the Rwanda Genocide.
Sono on her wedding day, October 1953.

Shortstories

  • Nagai-kurai-fuyu (長い暗い冬: Long, Dark Winter), which is known as a masterpiece and anthologized often
  • Rakuyō-no-koe (落葉の声: The Voice of Falling Leaves), which describes the end of Father Maximilian Kolbe
  • Tadami-gawa (只見川: The River Tadami), which sings of a love torn apart by World War II

Essays

  • The two million bestseller Dare-no-tame-ni-aisuruka? (誰のために愛するか: For Whom Do You Love?)
  • Kairō-roku (戒老録: A note of Admonition to the Old) on the way how we behave in old age
  • II-hito-o-yameruto-raku-ni-naru (「いい人」をやめると楽になる: Stop Being ”Nice”, and You'll Be Liberated), a collection of epigrams

Political and Social Activities

  • Sono is also known as a conservative.
  • In 2000, she welcomed Alberto Fujimori, ex-President of Peru, to stay at her house.
  • After the death of Ryoichi Sasakawa, one of the biggest rightist leaders, Sono took over his position as the head of the “Nippon Foundation,”(日本財団) whose funds come from 3 percent of the profits of the boat races all over Japan. As the chairperson, she had focused on welfare and assistance of undeveloped countries, until 30 June 2005, when her term of office finally expired after nine and a half years of dedication to and effective investment in the impoverished people. The position of the foundation chairman was taken over by Yohei Sasakawa.
  • She works as the president of an NGO named “Kaigai-senkyosha-katsudo-enjo-koenkai” (JOMAS :Japan Overseas Missionaries Assistance Society) to help Japanese missionaries devoting their lifetime in foreign countries.
  • She has been selected as a Person of Cultural Merits in 2003, following her Husband’s honor in 1999.
  • She was nominated as director of the Japan Post Holding Co.'s board by Shizuka Kamei, minister in charge of postal reform, in October 2009.

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