Die japanische Gegenwartsliteratur als Forum sozialer Thematik

Gössmann, Hilaria GND

In contemporary Japanese literature, many best-selling novels focus on the hedonistic and materialistic way of life of the younger generation. Nevertheless, there are also novels by famous authors dealing with social issues. This article aims to analyze the ways in which these novels contribute to the public discussion of urgent social issues in Japanese society. To demonstrate the wide range of social problems dealt with in contemporary Japanese literature, novels on three different social problems that have been discussed widely since the 1970’s are introduced. In the first chapter, which deals with the care of elderly people, Kōkotsu no hito (The Twilight Years; 1972) a best-seller written by Ariyoshi Sawako, is compared to Gunsei (Living Together, 1984) by Kuroi Senji. The second chapter is about discrimination against single mothers and fatherless children. Novels of Tsushima Yūko, Yamada Taichi and Ochiai Keiko are analyzed. The last chapter introduces novels of Hikari Agata and Yamada Eimi dealing with ijime, the bullying of schoolmates, and refusal to attend school (tōkō kyohi). It appears to be a common characteristic of most of these novels that the authors avoid drastic or extreme descriptions in order not to discourage those readers who are confronted by these kinds of social problems. Rather, the authors tend to demonstrate how the problems can be solved in an idealistic way.

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