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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Writing minority/Reading minorityYuu Miri and the Zainichi Korean literature debate

July 8, 1999

Tracey Gannon, Ritsumeikan University

In 1997, Yuu Miri was awarded the prestigious Akutagawa prize for hernovel Kazoku Cinema (first published in Gunzo in December 1996).As a young, prolific woman writer of Korean-Japanese descent, she was perhapsperfectly qualified to take the Japanese literary world by storm.

Her success story, however, has become a site of conflict, with hercritics arguing over whether she is, is not, was never, or was and nowis no longer a zainichi korean minority writer. She is categorised, inother words, alternately in terms of minority or mainstream interpretations.

It is interpretations such as these, then, that my presentation willseek to challenge. Firstly, through a close examination of how Yuu Miriproblematises the subject position of „OtherEwithin her texts, I willshow how her works at once intersect with and resist the identity basednarratives and oppositional positions that writers of minority have sooften been wont to or obliged to fall into.  And secondly I will arguethat it is precisely her success in resisting how minority is written (andread) by taking her texts beyond essentialist dichotomies such as Eargin/centreE and Einority/mainstreamEthat makes her texts especially suitable to question/contestthe essentialist readings of margin and centre that have been used to circumscribeand inscribe her and her work.