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2023.01.09

The German edition of Ora, Ora de Hitori Igumo(I, I’m going alone), by the Bungei Prize and Akutagawa Prize-winning author Chisako Wakatake won the LiBeratur Award in Germany. This is a historic first for a Japanese author.

Chisako Wakatake completes her first novel after winning the Akutagawa Prize, Cock A Doodle Doo, to be released in spring of 2023.

The 2022 LiBeratur Award, a German literary award given to female writers from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Arab world, was announced on September 6. It was awarded to the German edition of Ora, Ora de Hitori Igumo(I, I'm going alone) by Chisako Wakatake (published by Kawade Shobo Shinsha), Jeder geht für sich allein (translated by Jürgen Stalph).



Alongside Ora, Ora de Hitori Igumo(I, I'm going alone) there were two other candidates from Japan for the LiBeratur Award this year, Hiromi Ito's The Thorn-Puller and Mieko Kawakami's Heaven. A total of 13 books from Nigeria, China, Chile, Israel, Haiti, and Argentina and other countries were nominated for the award. Seven books including the three from Japan were shortlisted for the award. It is a historic first for a Japanese author to win this award since its inception.

The author, Chisako Wakatake, was presented with the award and prize money of 3,000 euros at the Frankfurt Book Fair which took place this year. Ora, Ora de Hitori Igumo(I, I'm going alone) is currently available in five countries and regions including the German edition and preparations are being made for publication in three other countries.
Ms. Wakatake's talk show held in the Japan Booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 20, 2022.
(From left: Chisako Wakatake, Katja Cassing from German edition publisher Cass Verlag, and German edition translator Jürgen Stalph)
The author, Chisako Wakatake, was presented with the award and prize money of 3,000 euros at the Frankfurt Book Fair which took place this year. Ora, Ora de Hitori Igumo(I, I'm going alone) is currently available in five countries and regions including the German edition and preparations are being made for publication in three other countries.


Ms. Wakatake's talk show held in the Japan Booth at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 20, 2022.
(From left: Chisako Wakatake, Katja Cassing from German edition publisher Cass Verlag, and German edition translator Jürgen Stalph)


Ms. Wakatake's long-awaited first novel after winning the Akutagawa Award Cock a Doodle Doo, which had been serialized in the quarterly literary magazine Bungei (Kawade Shobo Shinsha) had its final installment in the autumn edition of Bungei (released July 7). Her first novel Ora, Ora de Hitori Igumo(I, I'm going alone) was from a first-person viewpoint about living alone, but her new novel Cock a Doodle Doo features a group of people living together. Her first work to be released in five years, this long-awaited book breaks new ground for the author. It it set to be released in spring of 2023.

The LiBeratur Award


The LiBeratur Award is a literary prize awarded to books written by female authors from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Arab world translated and published in Germany in the previous year. Every year, all translated works by female authors from these countries are automatically entered for the award and a longlist is announced, after which shortlist is announced, followed by one winner.

This award was established in 1987 by the literary society Litprom in Germany in an attempt to remediate the situation of there being very few modern female authors from the above regions publishing German editions of their works in the book market of the literary country of Germany. The voices of such female writers are highly underrepresented in the media and there is still a persistent image of women being weak, poor, and victims in society. However, we can no longer ignore the voices of increasingly confident women in the world. That is the philosophy behind this award.

Many LiBeratur Award-winners go on to have not only their award-winning works, but also their other works translated into numerous languages, and receive high international acclaim, and be shortlisted or win the Booker Prize (England), the Orange Prize for Fiction (England, currently called the Women’s Prize for Fiction), the New Academy Prize in Literature (Sweden), and other prestigious literary awards.

This award is offered by the Ministry of Science and Arts of Hessen (Hessen, Germany) and sponsored by the non-profit cultural fund Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain of the City of Frankfurt (Frankfurt am Main).

Comments by award-winner Chisako Wakatake


On winning the LiBeratur Award
It is an honor to win this prestigious German literary award. The voice of an ordinary and elderly woman living in one corner of the world has reached people living in a foreign land. Winning this award is not only my doing, it is also thanks to the translator Jürgen Stalph and everyone who supported me. Looking back on my life, I made my debut with the Bungei Award at age 63 and only recently finished writing my second novel. It takes time for me to do anything, but taking this opportunity anew, I would like to devote myself to writing novels that make you feel you can keep on going, just like Momoko, the protagonist of Ora, Ora de Hitori Igumo(I, I'm going alone). Thank you very much.

Book synopsis


Momoko left her hometown in the autumn at age 24. Finding a live-in job, meeting and then marrying Shuzo, spending hectic days raising two children, then the sudden death of her husband?Now in her seventies, Momoko is on her own sipping tea, when suddenly her inner thoughts in her native dialect start to flow like a jazz session. “Have I really lived?” At the end of her sadness, she finds freedom and a busy loneliness. A moving bestseller that asks everyone about the meaning of living. Adapted to the screen (Ora, Ora Be Goin' Alone ) in 2020 (directed by Shuichi Okita).

Introduction of the author Chisako Wakatake


Born in Tono, Iwate Prefecture in 1954. Graduated from Iwate University. Started going to writing classes at age 55 and wrote Ora, Ora de Hitori Igumo(I, I'm going alone) over eight years. In 2017, won the 54th Bungei Award, becoming the oldest recipient of the award and made her debut with the novel. Won the 158th Akutagawa Award the following year. Her long-awaited second work, Cock a Doodle Doo, is set to be published in spring 2023.

Introduction of the translator Jürgen Stalph


Born in Germany in 1954. A researcher and translator of the Japanese language, he is co-author of the Großes japanisch-deutsches Worterbuch (Japanese-German dictionary). His many German translations include Kobo Abe's The Box Man , The Ruined Map , and Kangaroo Notebook ; Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human ; Seiko Ito's I Concur with the Ban on Novels ; Ko Machida's Sobbing Daikoku ; Manichi Yoshimura’s Borado Disease ; and Junichiro Tanizaki's The Key. Stalph resides in Germany.

German edition information


Title: Jeder geht für sich allein
Translator: Jürgen Stalph
Publisher: Cass Verlag
Specifications: 109 pages
First edition published: February 15, 2021



Japanese edition information


Title: Ora, Ora de Hitori Igumo(I, I'm going alone)
Author: Chisako Wakatake

[Kawade Bunko edition]
Price including tax: 693 yen
Specifications: 105mm x 148mm, 200 pages
https://www.kawade.co.jp/np/isbn/9784309417547/



[Standalone edition]
Price including tax: 1,320 yen
Specifications: 128mm x 188mm, hardcover, 168 pages
https://www.kawade.co.jp/np/isbn/9784309026374/

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