Japan-based Taiwanese novelist Li Kotomi (李琴峰) won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for promising authors on Wednesday, making her the second non-native Japanese speaker after Chinese author Yang Yi (楊逸) to win the highly sought-after literary award.
Li’s winning novel “An Island where Red Spider Lilies Bloom” (彼岸花が咲く島) tells the story of a young girl, Umi, who travels to an island ruled by women, and where traditional gender roles have been completely reversed.
On this island, history is recorded in a language that only selected women can learn, which leaves no room for men in the creation and recording of events.
This may sound strangely familiar as this was women’s role in a patriarchal society not too long ago, and this is exactly what Li wanted to explore in her novel.
In an interview with the Central News Agency (CNA, 中央社), Li lamented the fact that history has always been written by men or from a male perspective.
Even now, after making years of progress on the gender equality front, we are still haunted by the legacy left by a patriarchal society, including existing schools of thought, ideologies, and even political institutions, Li shared.
She further added: “when we look back on history, there were many matriarchal societies among hunter-gatherers. Yet as we progressed into an agricultural-based society, the patriarchy suddenly took over and it’s just astonishing.”
“An Island where Red Spider Lilies Bloom” explores the issues of humanity and equality and can be viewed as Li’s contribution to the deep reflection of human history and the way it has been constructed.
李琴峰的其他作品還包括 《星月夜》（ほしつきよる）、《倒數五秒月牙》(五つ数えれば三日月が), 以及在2017年榮獲第60回群像新人文學獎優秀作品的《獨舞》。
Her other works include “Moon and Starlight Night” (星月夜（ほしつきよる）), “Count to Five and the Crescent Moon” (五つ数えれば三日月が), as well as debut novel “Solo Dance” (独舞)，which won the 60th Gunzō New Writers’ Award for Excellence in 2017.