A novelist, essayist, and short story writer, Oe was born in 1935 on the Japanese island of Shikoku. After a childhood shaped by family storytelling and war, he attended Tokyo University and studied French literature. A prolific writer, Oe addresses the themes of family, childhood, and war.
At the age of 23, Oe published his first novel, Pluck the Flowers, Gun the Kids. That same year, he won the Akutagawa Prize for The Catch, a short novel about a small boy’s relationship with an African-American pilot captured in his village. A Personal Matter was inspired by his own family’s experiences in raising a mentally-challenged child. The work earned him the Shinohosha Literary Prize. Hiroshima Notes analyses the ethical implications of atomic war, informed by his interviews with doctors and patients who suffered the effects of the bombing. His 1967 novel Football in the First Year of Mannen received the Tanizaki Prize. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994 and was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize in 2005.