Yamada Eimi (Yamada Futaba) (Writer)


(1959- ) novelist, short-story writer, cartoonist

Yamada Eimi was born in Tokyo. As a high school student, she became a devoted reader and chose Japanese literature as her area of study when she attended Meiji University in 1978. However, she never graduated, having already begun writing in her junior year manga (narrative comics) for high-school girls. Yamada soon tired of producing manga and decided to take up fiction writing. She adopted a sensational lifestyle as a bar hostess, a nude model, and a “queen” of a sado-masochists’ club. She began to write seriously when her relationship soured with an African-American soldier based in Japan.

Her first work, the autobiographical novella Bedtime Eyes, published in 1985, was about a relationship between a Japanese woman and an African-American soldier based in Japan. A year later, Yamada produced eight stories, including “Jessie’s Spine,” about a Japanese woman’s difficult relationship with her African-American lover’s son. Increasing her rate of production even more, she published another eight short stories and three novels in 1987. One of the novels, A Foot-bound Butterfly, is a story about the experiences of a young girl as she navigates adolescent pressures.

Yamada is a prolific writer whose stories revel in the exotic. Her characters are generally young women living on the edge and often involved in relationships with African Americans. She incorporates an unusually large amount of slang English into her stories to evoke vivid imagery. As such,

Yamada’s stories represent a new voice in Japanese literature. She has won the Bungei Award and the Naoki Prize and been nominated for the Akuta-gawa Prize.

Other Works by Yamada Eimi

“Kneel Down and Lick My Feet.” Translated by Terry Gallaher. In Alfred Birnbaum and Elmer Luke, eds., Monkey Brain Sushi: New Tastes in Japanese Fiction. New York: Kodansha International, 1993. Trash. Translated by Sonya L. Johnson. New York: Ko-dansha International, 1995.

A Work about Yamada Eimi

Cornyetz, Nina. “Power and Gender in the Narratives of Yamada Eimi.” In Paul Gordon Schalow and Janet A. Walker, eds., The Woman’s Hand: Gender and Theory in Japanese Women’s Writing. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1996.

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