Nobel Prize Winner Kenzaburo Oe Passes Away at 88
Literature has lost one of its most important postwar writers with the death of Kenzaburo Oe. The Japanese author, known for his works such as “A Personal Matter” and “Hiroshima Notebooks”, passed away at the age of 88 from natural causes on March 3, as announced by his publisher, Kodansha.
Oe began his literary career in 1958 at the young age of 23 with “The Capture”, which won him the Akutagawa Prize. His most recognized work, “A Personal Matter”, was published in 1964 and showcased his personal experience as a parent with a child suffering from hydrocephalus. As a result of this experience, his son Hikari Oe, who has a cranial deformity and autism, became a music composer.
Oe’s “Hiroshima Notebooks” and “Okinawa Notebooks” earned him international recognition and ultimately led to his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994, making him the second Japanese writer to receive the prestigious award after Yasunari Kawabata.
Oe was also known as a pacifist, anti-nuclear activist, and political commentator. He founded the Article 9 Association, a peace group that called on the Japanese government to renounce warfare under any circumstances. In his writing, Oe reflected on post-war Japanese society and the challenges of parenthood when raising a child with disabilities.
The Swedish Academy praised Oe’s “poetic force and ability to create worlds where life is condensed and myth to provide a disconcerting picture of the current human situation.” His literary style was influenced by French literature, specifically by Jean-Paul Sartre.
Universal literature and humanism have lost a notable figure with Oe’s passing. He will forever be remembered for his dedication to peace, his activism, and his unique voice in the literary world.