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Dissertationsprojekt Qiao Mina

Women in the Maze: Gender, Crime, and Space in Kirino Natsuo's writings

Betreuung: Prof. Dr. Evelyn Schulz

The publication of the Edogawa Rampo Prize winning novel Kao ni furikakaru ame (1993; "Face Veiled in Rain") established Kirino Natsuo (b. 1951) in Japanese bundan (i.e. literary circles). Since the success that the English translation of Auto (1997; OUT, 2003) received overseas, Kirino has become one of most popular Japanese authors worldwide. Because of the issues that her fictions touch on such as post-bubble social structure, gender inequality and crime, her works become the artistic representation of Japan's urban reality since the 1960s and thus the primary texts for international academics to examine.

Kirino grew up in the postwar period, witnessing the activism of the New Left, the 1970s student movements (1968-1972), the postwar economic miracle, and the Japanese economic bubble (1986-1991) followed by the "lost decade" (1991-2000). These events in the postwar period have strongly influenced contemporary cityscape in her narratives. Urban development and female consciousness are two notable trends appearing in her literary works since the 1990s. This thesis builds upon an understanding that Japan's domestic politics and economics during this period made a profound impression on the experience of urbanites in Japan, and examines how the author weave her own urban experiences into the narratives.

Moreover, all primary texts chosen for this thesis integrate the consciousness of urban space and mobility (including actions such as exile, flight, and flâner), most of them have a crime as the thread of their narratives. Modern urbanization and crime form a duet. The chosen primary texts represent this particular hybrid of social environment and social problems in contemporary Japan from women's perspective.