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Death by Water

Death by Water

Translated by Deborah Boliver Boehm 

Published by Atlantic Books

For the first time in his long life, Nobel laureate Kogito Choko is suffering from writer's block. The book that he wishes to write would examine the turbulent relationship he had with his father, and the guilt he feels about being absent the night his father drowned in a storm-swollen river. But how to write about a man he never really knew? When his estranged sister unexpectedly calls, she offers Choko a remedy – she has in her possession an old and mysterious red trunk, the contents of which promise to unlock the many secrets of the man who disappeared from their lives decades before.

Kenzaburō Ōe is considered one of Japan's leading post-war writers, and has won almost every major international honour including the 1989 Prix Europalia and the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature. He lives in Tokyo.

Deborah Boliver Boehm lost herself in Zen as an exchange student travelling Japan in the 1960s, and recorded her experience in A Zen Romance: Once Woman’s Adventure in a Monastery. She has also written a collection of modern retellings of Japanese folklore in Ghost of a Smile: Stories. Along with her writing, Deborah has translated Akimitsu Takagi’s The Tattoo Murder Case and The Changeling by Kenzaburō Ōe.

About the Author

Kenzaburo Oe

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.