Seishi Yokomizo (1902 – 81)–Updated 4 July 2022

descargaSeishi Yokomizo was a Japanese novelist in the Shōwa era (1926–1989). Yokomizo was born in the city of Kobe, Hyōgo. He read detective stories as a boy and in 1921, while employed by the Daiichi Bank, published his first story in the popular magazine “Shin Seinen” (New Youth). He graduated from Osaka Pharmaceutical College (currently part of Osaka University) with a degree in pharmacy, and initially intended to take over his family’s drug store even though sceptical of the contemporary ahistorical attitude towards drugs. However, drawn by his interest in literature, and the encouragement of Edogawa Rampo, he went to Tokyo instead, where he was hired by the Hakubunkan publishing company in 1926. After serving as editor in chief of several magazines, he resigned in 1932 to devote himself full-time to writing. Yokomizo was attracted to the literary genre of historical fiction, especially that of the historical detective novel. In July 1934, while resting in the mountains of Nagano to recuperate from tuberculosis, he completed his first novel Onibi, which was published in 1935, although parts were immediately censored by the authorities. Undeterred, Yokomizo followed on his early success with a second novel Ningyo Sashichi torimonocho (1938–1939). However, during World War II, he faced difficulties in getting his works published due to the wartime conditions, and was in severe financial problems. The lack of Streptomycin and other antibiotics also meant that his tuberculosis could not be properly treated, and he joked with friends that it was a race to see whether he would die of disease or of starvation. However, soon after the end of World War II, his works received wide recognition and he developed an enormous fan following. He published many works via Kodansha’s Weekly Shōnen Magazine in serialized form, concentrating only on popular mystery novels, based on the orthodox western detective story format, starting with Honjin satsujin jiken (The Honjin Murders) and Chōchō Satsujin Jinken (both in 1946). His works became the model for postwar Japanese mystery writing. He was also often called the “Japanese John Dickson Carr” after the writer whom he admired. Yokomizo is most well known for creating the private detective character Kosuke Kindaichi. Many of his works have been made into movies. Yokomizo died of colon cancer in 1981. His grave is at the Seishun-en cemetery in Kawasaki, Kanagawa. The Yokomizo Seishi Prize is a literary award established in 1980 by the Kadokawa Shoten publishing company and the Tokyo Broadcasting System in honor of Yokomizo. It is awarded annually to a previously unpublished novel-length mystery. (Source: Wikipedia)

English Translations

  • The Honjin Murders (本陣殺人事件 Honjin satsujin jiken, April 1946) translated by Louise Heal Kawai. Pushkin Vertigo, 2019; ISBN 9781782275008
  • Gokumon Island (獄門島 Gokumontō, January 1947 – October 1948) translated by Louise Heal Kawai. Pushkin Vertigo, 2022; ISBN 9781782277415
  • The Village of Eight Graves (八つ墓村 Yatsuhakamura, March 1949 – March 1951) translated by Bryan Karetnyk. Pushkin Vertigo, 2021; ISBN 9781782277453
  • The Inugami Curse (犬神家の一族 Inugamike no ichizoku, January 1950 – May 1951) translated by Yumiko Yamazaki. Stone Bridge Press, 2007; ISBN 9781933330310. Later published by Pushkin Vertigo, 2020; ISBN 978-1-78227-503-9

I read The Inugami Curse (Spanish title: El clan de los Inugami). My post is here, and I’m looking forward to read the rest of his books available from Pushkin Vertigo. Stay tuned.

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