Kenzaburo Oe, the Japanese author who won the 1994 Nobel Prize in literature for his socially conscious novels, short stories, and essays, has died at 88, the Associated Press reports.
Oe was born in the village of Ose and educated at Tokyo University, where he studied French literature. His first novel, Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids, written when he was 23, was published in 1958.
Six years later, Oe published A Personal Matter, one of his best-known novels. The book, inspired by his own life, follows a 27-year-old man who is dealing with his infant son’s mental disability. Other novels followed over the years, including A Quiet Life; Rouse Up, O Young Men of the New Age; Somersault, and The Changeling.
Oe won the Nobel Prize in 1994. The Swedish Academy said in a citation that the author “with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today.”
Admirers of Oe paid tribute to him on social media. On Twitter, author Colin Dickey wrote, “Truly one of the great twentieth century novelists, RIP Kenzaburo Oe.”
Truly one of the great twentieth century novelists, RIP Kenzaburo O? https://t.co/qi4Z5i7wkk— Colin Dickey (@colindickey) March 13, 2023
And editor Matt Lee tweeted, “Oe was a master, and the chronicling of his experience raising a disabled child is a testament to compassion and love. Thank you for your work, Kenzaburo Oe, and farewell.”
Michael Schaub, a journalist and regular contributor to NPR, lives near Austin, Texas.