A short story by celebrated novelist Yasunari Kawabata has been published for the first time in the literary magazine Shincho. The story entitled “Hoshi o Nusunda Chichi” (The father who stole a star) is an adaptation of the play “Liliom” by Hungarian author Ferenc Molnar.
According to Harumi Fukasawa, a Kawabata researcher and teacher at Wayo Kudan Junior and Senior High School in Tokyo, the 22 page long manuscript was probably written by Kawabata in 1924 after he graduated from Tokyo Imperial University (now University of Tokyo). The manuscript was written on 400-character manuscript paper and based on this, plus the inscription “Ferenc Molnar”, her theory is that he wrote it when he was 24 but did not publish it due to poor book sales. The manuscript was purchased by the Ibaraki Municipal Kawabata Literature Hall in Osaka Prefecture from a secondhand bookstore and has been on display since last summer, but this is the first time that the story has been printed.
Kawabata was the first Japanese author to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968 and has been revered for his minimalist and lyrical type of prose. Liliom is the story of a father who tries to steal a star for his unborn daughter but in the end commits suicide in atonement for his sins. It was the basis for the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel. Kawabata’s adaptation changed the form of the story and focuses more on the love of a father. His experience as an orphan and his fascination with suicide were some of the theorized reasons for him picking the story to adapt.