Lettre Ulysses Award for the art of reportage

Natsuki Ikezawa, Japan

Novelist, poet, essayist, translator. Natsuki Ikezawa was born in 1945 in Hokkaido in the northern part of Japan. He is said to love islands and himself lives on one in the very south of the Japanese archipelago.

After having studied physics at Saitama University for a few years, he went to Greece in 1975 and resided there for three years. After returning, Ikezawa first made himself felt as a lyric poet and translator (he has translated, among others, the American authors Kurt Vonnegut and Jack Kerouac). He translated modern Greek poetry into Japanese and also did the subtitles for the films of the Greek director Theodoros Angelopoulos. In 1987, Ikezawa published his highly praised collection of longer short stories Still Lives, which received the renowned Akutagawa Prize. He has published many stories and essays including Ending with Happiness, which received the Yomiuri Prize.

In 1995, the novel Downfall of Macias Guili was published, a political novel about the use and abuse of power, about the collision between the Western modern age and the archaic world of the South Pacific, a novel about spirituality, death, sexuality, and the archaic dimension of life, for which Ikezawa received the Tanizaki-Junichiro Prize. His novel A Burden of Flowers takes place in Bali and is an exciting story involving drug schemes, court dramas, and political conflicts. His works have been translated into English, French, Russian, Turkish, and German.

In the fall of 2002, Ikezawa went to Iraq accompanied by the photographer Seiichi Motohashi to document what the country looked like before the approaching war. This resulted in the literary reportage On a Small Bridge in Iraq, which is available for perusal on the Internet. On his homepage www.cafeimpala.com, Ikezawa publishes a series of weekly columns, where in the form of journal-like entries he takes a stand on current events in the world.

Ikezawa lives on the island of Okinawa in Southern Japan.

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"A good reportage must not necessarily be linked with topical or political events which are taking place around us. I think the miracle of things lies not in showing the extraordinary but in showing ordinary things in which the extraordinary is hidden."Nirmal Verma (jury member 2003)