Tamaki Daido

TAMAKI DAIDO, author of Milk, was born in 1966 and worked as a radio scriptwriter before becoming a novelist. Her novel Naked won the 30th Kyushu Art Festival Prize in 2000. She was nominated for the Akutagawa Prize four times before finally winning the award in 2002 for Salty Drive, a novel that caused some controversy in Japan for its depiction of the unconventional love affair between a woman in her thirties and a man in his sixties. Daido’s work is characterized by a cynical sense of humor and an offbeat take on female sexuality.

An interview with the author

Q: The stories from INSIDE AND OTHER SHORT FICTION explore the multitude of women’s identity issues and a major overriding theme—the difference between the woman the world sees and the woman one is inside. Do you believe the inside self and the outside self are always different? Is this an issue you’ve confronted on a personal level?

A: Well, physically I am a woman, but apart from that I don’t consider myself any different from a man. From when I was a little girl, people used to spread rumors that I was a lesbian, which I still wouldn’t deny, but all my lovers have been men. Humans are desirable; if they are nice people I like them. It doesn’t matter if they’re male or female. And I like animals even more.

Q: What is it about current society (Japanese, American, etc.) that makes it so difficult to be a woman today? In your opinion, is there one thing or many things that come into play? Is it a generational thing? Are men having the same problems?

A: The differences between men and women are tiny. The real issue is that there are many problems in the world. As a woman I have been discriminated against and treated as if I am stupid, but sometimes people treat me more favorably because I am a woman. And it’s the same kind of problem if you are a man. Good things and bad things. As for the generation gap, I think it’s something that can be bridged fairly easily, if you set your mind to it. More than this, I prefer to think about human relationships, our relationship with nature, and using my body and soul, day in, day out.