Abe, Kobo

Abe, Kobo kōˈbō äˈbā [key], pseud. of Kimifusa Abe, 1924–93, Japanese novelist and dramatist. Although Abe trained as a doctor, he never practiced medicine. Often compared to Kafka, he treated the contemporary human predicament in a realistic yet symbolic style, often focusing on themes of alienation. His minute descriptions of surrealistic situations often lend his works a nightmarish quality, as in his best-known novel, The Woman in the Dunes (1962; tr. and film 1964, repr. 2007), the tale of a man and a mysterious young woman who are held hostage by desert villagers at the bottom of enormous encroaching sand dunes and forced to shovel away the endless sand. Abe's other novels include Face of Another (1964, tr. 1966), Beasts Head for Home (1970, tr. 2017), The Box Man (1973, tr. 2001), Secret Rendezvous (1977, tr. 1979), and The Ark Sakura (1984, tr. 1988). His plays include Friends (1967, tr. 1969). The first of his short stories to appear in English were collected in Beyond the Curve (1944–66; tr. 1991). A number of his essays were collected in The Frontier Within (tr. 2013).

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