Akiyuki Nosaka, celebrated author of Grave of the Fireflies, passes away

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

Famed writer’s best-known novel served as basis for Studio Ghibli anime of the same name.

Born in the city of Kamakura in 1930, Akiyuki Nosaka didn’t have an easy childhood. His mother died two months after giving birth to him. His adoptive father was killed in an air raid on Kobe in the closing months of World War II, and growing up Nosaka would also lose an older sister to illness and a younger one to starvation after evacuating their home.

Nosaka would channel the pain of these experiences into his semi-autobiographical novel Grave of the Fireflies, which was published when the author was 37 and would be awarded the Naoki Prize for literature in 1967. While the novel has had limited exposure abroad, it was also adapted into an animated theatrical feature in 1988, which earned international acclaim for its powerful story, Studio Ghibli-produced animation, and direction by renowned anime icon Isao Takahata.

Nosaka suffered a stroke in 2003, and had been receiving convalescent care from his wife at their Tokyo home since then. On the morning of December 9, at roughly 10:30, Mrs. Nosaka discovered that her husband was not breathing. The 85-year-old author was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead by medical staff.

In addition to his wife, Nosaka is survived by his two daughters, both former members of the Takarazuka all-female stage troupe. The deeply respected writer’s passing brings great sorrow to fans of literature and animation alike, and its suddenness, like Nosaka’s signature work itself, is a solemn reminder of the preciousness of life.

Doodles by legendary Japanese author Osamu Dazai

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RocketNews 24:

From the Heian period to today, Japan has had more than its fair share of great writers. While Ki no Tsurayuki and Murasaki Shikibu are this humble writer’s favorite members of the Japanese literati, today we’re talking about someone a bit more modern: Osamu Dazai. Famous for his first-person and often morose stories, such as the world-famous novel No Longer Human, Dazai was one of the more troubled figures of Japanese literature–and he eventually died in a double suicide when only 38 years old.

Considering his turbulent life, it’s probably no surprise that his classroom doodles, drawn in his English and Ethics notebooks, are so fascinating! Even if you’ve never read a single word by the author, you still won’t want to miss these drawings.

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On first glance, you might miss the doodle in the notebook above, but be sure to look closely at the left page–the profile of a slender male face with an absurdly large nose can be seen at the right edge.

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As you can see in the pictures, Dazai apparently loved drawing these men with large noses–some could even be called “handsome middle-aged men,” at least in the opinion of Japanese website Karapaia.

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It’s not clear who exactly was being depicted in Dazai’s numerous scribbles, but he almost seems to have been more interested in these faces than his studies! Which may well have been the case as Dazai apparently became a horrible student after his favorite author committed suicide.

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The notebooks were preserved and uploaded to the Internet for all to peruse by the Hirosaki University Library after they were donated by a son of Masafumi Ono, a scholar who wrote about Dazai. The Ethics notebook was partially used, with the first 73 pages filled with regular notes and the remaining pages containing the bulk of the late author’s doodles.

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And here are a few doodles from his English notebook as well. It looks like he found the class about as engaging as some Japanese students do these days, and, as with the Ethics notebook, filled up many pages with his sketches.

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You can view high-resolution images of every page of both notebooks on the Hirosaki University Library website. The English notebook is here, and the Ethics notebook is here.

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Artist Profile: The work of Chitra Ganesh

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A recipient of the 2012 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a scholar of literature, art semiotics, painting, and sculpture, Brooklyn-based artist Chitra Ganesh is certainly no stranger to the art world and understandably so. Her incredible installations, drawings, digital and painting-based collages look to excavate and circulate buried narratives typically excluded from official canons of history, literature, and art.

Check out this link:

Artist Profile: The work of Chitra Ganesh

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