Kobo Abe was born Kimifusa Abe in Tokyo on March 7,1924. He grew up in Mukden Manchuria where his father was on the staff of the Imperial Medical College, but unlike other Japanese writers such as Yukio Mishima and Oe Kenzaburo, Abe did not recieve his initial training as a writer. He originally studied medicine at Tokyo University eventually planning to become a doctor like his father. Medicine didn't seem to hold any attraction for Abe, so even though he graduated from medical school, he never practiced medicine.
After the Second World War Kobo Abe was a member of an artistic group called "Yoru no kai" which translates into English to mean "Night Association". Shortly afterwards he joined the Communist party of Japan and began experimenting with fusing Marxism and Surrealism in literature. In 1948 Abe published his first novel "The Road Sign at the End of the Street". In 1951 he he wrote "The Crime of S. Karuma" for which he was awarded Japan's most prestigious literary award the Akutagawa prize.
Kobo Abe became well known outside of Japan as the result of a film adaptation of his 1963 novel "Woman on the Dunes" made by the documentary filmmaker Teshigahara Hiroshi. The film was awarded a prize at the Cannes Film Festival and brought Kobo Abe international recognition.The novel became the first of Abe's books to be published in the United Staes.
Kobo Abe died of a heart attack on January 22,1993 at the age of 68.
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