A Look into Japan’s Lost Generation and Contesting Literary Standards: An Annotated Translation of Wataya Risa’s Install
Bi-College (Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges). Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
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This thesis will discuss the significance of Wataya Risa’s novel Install (インストール) and conclude with a translation the beginning of the text. The story follows Asako, a seventeen year old girl sick of high school life and studying for entrance exams. After deciding to drop out, she befriends Kuzuyoshi, a neighboring elementary school boy, and together they plan to use her old computer to make easy money through adult websites. The story follows Asako’s growth as she is introduced to the adult world and learns how to install a new life for herself. In 2001, Install won Wataya the 38th Bungei Prize, a literary prize awarded to upcoming writers, at the age of seventeen. This made her the youngest recipient of the award at that time and, therefore, served as her impressive debut to the literary world. By 2003, Wataya went on to win the Akutagawa Prize, the highest honor for Japanese literature, for her following novel I Want to Kick You in the Back (蹴りたい背中). This stirred up much controversy in Japan since Wataya and her fellow award winner were both very young and female authors. As a result, current Western scholarly work tends to focus on either I Want to Kick You in the Back or her fellow prize winner, Kanehara Hitomi, whose idol like appearance and unconventional life choices have provoked much more media attention that Wataya. However, my goal is to show that Install should not be overlooked. It is significant in that it represents both post-bubble youth dissidence and the blending of “pure” literature and popular fiction in Japan and is therefore a valuable piece for future research in those areas.