RIO SHIMAMOTO, author of Inside, was born in 1983. By the age of twenty, she had twice been nominated for the Akutagawa Prize for her novels Little by Little (2003) and The Depths of the Forest (2004). Little by Little was awarded the Noma Prize for Literature, making Shimamoto the youngest-ever recipient of the award. Her fiction often portrays the loneliness and isolation that young people feel as they cross the threshold from childhood to adulthood.
An interview with the author
Q: What inspired you to write your particular short story in this collection? Is it something you read about in the news media? An incident from your own life?
A: I wanted to portray something that was a universal experience for a teenager in Japan. I think that when you are a teenager, family and love tend to be your two major concerns.
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: I think for women the issue of children is the biggest thing. In Japan, women are still expected to take sole responsibility for child rearing, and this discourages many women from having children. Age is another issue that is difficult for women. Our society values young women and many women worry about growing old. Another thing I think about—in a society where there is an increasing drive for equality between the sexes, how much will we be allowed to value our uniquely male or uniquely female qualities?