Creating a Place for Myself

It has been 28 years since I chose to write as my occupation.

My parents divorced while I was in elementary school. During junior high I lost my mental balance and was no longer able to go to school; at 15 I was expelled from high school.

Ever since I was young I’ve liked reading books and writing, so I decided to make writing my work. At 18, I made my debut as a playwright with “To My Friend in the Water,” and after composing 10 plays, began to write novels.

In 1997, when I was 28, I received the Akutagawa Prize for my novel Family Cinema. The Akutagawa Prize is Japan’s most famous literary award.

Receiving the award itself was something to be pleased about. However, men calling themselves right-wingers made threatening telephone calls to four bookstores in Tokyo and Yokohama where book signing events to mark the award had been planned, saying, “Cancel Yu Miri’s book signing. She is Korean, and making a fool of us Japanese. If you do not cancel we will harm your customers. We will plant a bomb. It is nothing to kill one or two people.” Meetings were held between the publishers, the bookstores, and the police, and the book signing events were cancelled.

I held a press conference and made a statement in protest against the despicable threats that go against freedom of speech and expression, and pledged to determinedly fight against them.

The threatening telephone calls from men calling themselves right-wingers were also made to the editors of the journal in which my regular essays were published, with repeated and persistent threats that “if Yu does not change her way of thinking, we will continue complete obstruction.”

In order to show our stance of not yielding to the threats, the publishing company and I went ahead with the book signings. We randomly selected 200 people from...

Yu miri is a Zainichi Korean novelist, playwright, and essayist.