Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) In 1968, Yasunari Kawabata became the first Japanese novelist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. His works combined the beauty of old Japan with modernist trends, and his prose blended realism with surrealistic visions. Kawabata's books have been described as "melancholy lyricism" and often explore the place of sex within culture, and within individual lives. Over the course of his life, Kawabata wrote many novels and more than a hundred two or three page stories. He called these his "tanagokoro no shosetsu" (palm-of-the-hand stories), and said that they expressed the essence of his art.
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