Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Typo or True Value?

In the evening edition of the Asahi dated February 27, 2003, an article about the Akutagawa Prize appeared. This prize is the most prestigious literature award in Japan. The article read:
The presentation ceremony of the 128th Akutagawa Prize (sponsored by Japan Association for Literature Promotion) was held in Tokyo on February 21, and Ms. Tamaki Daido received the main reward of a watch and the prize money of 100 yens. ...
Imagining the scene of Ms. Daido getting a 100-yen coin (about 80 cents) respectfully, I laughed and laughed. The next evening’s Asahi carried a correction to rectify the amount to 1 million yens. It is 100-man yens in Japanese expression; man (ten thousands) is denoted by a single Chinese character. So the dropping of that one character causes a large difference.

The article in the Asahi also told about the following words of Senji Kuroi, a member of the Nomination Committee of the Akutagawa Prize, to praise the Prize-winning work "Shoppai Doraibu" (Salty Driving):
The method of composing this work is stable, and the work has a firm structure. It well conveys the feeling of the heroine I, who is attracted by both a middle-aged man and the star actor of a local theatrical troupe. ...
The work was later published in book form, and the review of it appeared in the Asahi of March 23, 2003. The reviewer Atsushi Onoya wrote:
[This work] has no climax, no surprise ending, nor any meaning. ... Readers should not wrongly think that such is one of the top works of literature. ...
This is one of the most scathing book reviews I have ever read. If this were a right appraisal of the work, the prize money of 100 yens would have been appropriate. The evaluation of literary works seems to be a difficult thing.