Kenzaburō Ōe (1935-2023) is dead. The Japanese writer and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature died at the age of 88. This was announced by his publisher Kōdansha on Monday. Kenzaburō Ōe died on March 3rd. The publisher named old age as the cause of death.
In 1994 Kenzaburō Ōe was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was the second Japanese to receive this honor after Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) in 1968.
Ōe received the Nobel Prize "for his creation of a world in his work in which life and myth condense into a harrowing picture of man in the present," as the committee stated in its statement.
Kenzaburō Ōe is considered one of the first writers in Japan who was not only influenced by his country's literary tradition, but also by Western authors. During his studies in Tokyo he dealt with the French existentialists such as Albert Camus (1913-1960) and Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980). During his studies he published his first literary texts in the university newspaper.
In 1957 Kenzaburō Ōe's first room came out. For his debut, he was immediately nominated for the Akutagawa Prize, the most important literary award in his country. A year later, at the age of 23, Ōe became the youngest author to win the Akutagawa Prize.
Kenzaburō Ōe repeatedly expressed himself publicly on political issues. Former Chancellor Willy Brandt (1913-1992) once described him as the Japanese counterpart to Günter Grass (1927-2015), as a "dirty bugger" in the best sense of the word.
The Japanese campaigned for peace in post-war Japan and fought to keep Article 9 of the peace in the constitution. The public intellectual was repeatedly faced with opposition to his political and pacifist commitments. In 2005, for example, he was sued for defamation by the former commanders of the Japanese troops on Okinawa. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Ōe campaigned in vain for a nuclear phase-out. The deceased had three children.