Narrating Fukushima: The Genre of “Notes” as a Literary Response to the 3|11 Triple Disaster in Hideo Furukawa’s "Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure" (2011) and Michaël Ferrier’s Fukushima: Récit d’un désastre (2012)

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Abstract

This essay examines two unclassifiable texts—interweaving the genres of the essay, novel, poetry, and life writing—published in Japanese and in French in the aftermath of the triple disaster that hit Japan on 11 March 2011. These post-Fukushima hybrid works by Hideo Furukawa and Michaël Ferrier attempt to narrativize this unprecedented conjunction of natural and man-made catastrophes—which combined the unfathomable damage caused by the tsunami and the invisible nuclear radiation, which both induce a specific challenge in terms of representation—by blending not only the fictional and the documentary, but also the personal and the collective, via a plurality of voices (including those of victims met in the Fukushima region in 2011). This allows them to develop a critical, (bio)political, and historical perspective on these events, their causes, and their consequences, and to counter nationalist and, at times, misleading official discourses conveyed by the Japanese central state and the media. By so doing, they directly follow in the footsteps of trailblazers of disaster literature and of the composite genre of “notes” in the twentieth century, most notably Kenzaburō Ōe and Svetlana Alexievich, the authors, respectively, of Hiroshima Notes (1965) and Voices from Chernobyl (1997).
Original languageEnglish
JournalAuto/Biography Studies
Early online date2 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • comparative literature
  • disaster literature
  • life writing
  • genre of "notes"
  • Fukushima disaster
  • nuclear catastrophe
  • Fukushima

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