Author Nahoko Uehashi has smiled out from many a feature article, sales display, and book obi (advertising “sash”) in Japan since receiving the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing—a biennial award sometimes dubbed the Nobel Prize for children’s literature.
This past New Year’s Eve in Kamakura, I watched Uehashi help judge the TV special Kohaku uta gassen (Red and White Singing Contest), a celebrity sing-off as famous in Japan as New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in the U.S. Uehashi judged alongside figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and other stars. Already a bestselling author, Uehashi is now a household name.
Her acclaimed Moribito novels have been adapted for radio, manga, and anime, and the first novel will become a four-part TV drama aired beginning this March in Japan. Overseas, rights to the full book series have sold in China, with rights to individual books sold in Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, Taiwan, the U.S., and Vietnam. In the U.S., the first two Moribito novels—translated by Cathy Hirano as Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness—have won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award and a Batchelder Honor for publisher Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.
Above: Haruka Ayase stars as Balsa in the upcoming NHK TV dramatization of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit.
Many readers of English long to see more translations of books in the Moribito series—as shown in comments to the 2014 post on our blog announcing Uehashi’s Andersen Award. Since 2014, this post has ranked among our blog’s top-three most viewed.
Have you treated yourself to a reading of Moribito and Moribito II? If not, both books are worth adding to your 2016 reading list. Happy reading, and Happy New Year!
Above: Click to read more about Nahoko Uehashi and the Moribito series at Goodreads.