A Japanese publishing house revealed this week that an until-now undiscovered manuscript by celebrated, award-winning author Kobo Abe was found at his brother’s home in Sapporo. Shinchosha Publishing Co. says the short story will be published for the first time in the December issue of literary magazine Shincho next week. The story has been confirmed as authentic, with even Abe’s oldest daughter, Neri, identifying her father’s handwriting.
Only 19 pages long, the manuscript, titled Tenshi (“Angel”), is believed to have been written in 1946, when Abe was 22 years old, making it his third-earliest work. The publishing company says it appears to have been written while Abe traveling on a ship to bring Japanese settlers back from northeast China after the war. Keeping in line with one of Abe’s recurring themes throughout his work, that of the fictional nature of the real world. The story tells of a mental hospital escapee who wanders around, thinking people he sees passing by are angels.
Born in 1924 and passing away in 1993, Abe was known for writing about modern individuals in surreal, often nightmarish situations, earning comparisons to authors Franz Kafka and Alberto Moravia. While he was nominated multiple times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, but never won, fellow celebrated Japanese author Kenzaburo Oe (who was a recipient of the award) said Abe deserved it. Among the many honors Abe was given include the Akutagawa Prize in 1951 and the Yomiuri Prize in 1962 for Woman in the Dunes, a novel that was successfully adapted into an award-winning film of the same name by Hiroshi Teshigahara.