Yang Yi has become the first Chinese author to win the Akutagawa Prize for promising new writers, after the selection committee announced Tuesday she had been honored for her novel "Toki ga Nijimu Asa," which translates literally as "a morning when time blurs."
Yang, 44, who teaches Chinese language in Japan, is unique among writers to have won the prize in that her mother tongue is not Japanese, although it has been awarded to Korean writers living in Japan.
Also on Tuesday, the Naoki Prize, another literary award, was given to Areno Inoue, 47, for her novel "Kiriha e" (To the Coal Face).
Yang Yi's novel vividly depicts the joy and sorrow in the life of an idealistic Chinese university student who joins a pro-democracy movement but becomes frustrated by 1989's Tiananmen Square Incident.
Yang, a Chinese citizen whose real name is Liu Qiao, was born in Harbin. She has studied Japanese language since 1987, when she first came to Japan. She graduated from Ochanomizu University, Tokyo and was previously nominated for the biannually-awarded prize in November for her novel "Wang-chan," which won the Bungakukai new talent award.