Contact: 	Kim Brockway					For Immediate Release
		(212) 854-2419
		Peter Grilli
		(212) 854-5036


One of only two Japanese Literary Laureates

The internationally-acclaimed and Nobel Prize-winning Japanese novelist Kenzaburo Oe will engage in a literary dialogue with John Nathan, his longtime translator and a professor of Japanese literature, on Tuesday, April 8 at 8 p.m. at Columbia University. The event is presented by the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia, in collaboration with Columbia's Miller Theatre. The conversation (to be delivered in English) will be a highlight of the School of the Arts' ongoing "Theatre of Ideas" series, which has featured conversations with such important creative thinkers as David Mamet and the poet John Berryman. Columbia's Miller Theatre is located at 2960 Broadway, directly adjacent to the University's main gate at Broadway and 116th Street. Tickets are on sale at the Miller Theatre box office (open Monday - Friday, noon - 6 p.m.). Admission is $10; students and senior citizens, $5. Tickets may also be reserved by calling the box office (212) 854-7799 and by fax (212) 678-8503. Kenzaburo Oe, now 62 years old, is perhaps Japan's best known contemporary writer, and the author of more than 15 novels in Japanese, as well as numerous books of essays and criticism Among his best-known novels, translated into English, are The Catch (1959), A Personal Matter (1964), The Silent Cry (1974), Teach Us to Outgrow our Madness (1977), The Pinch Runner Memorandum (1976) , and Nip the Buds Shoot the Kids. John Nathan, a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has been closely associated with Oe for more than thirty years, and his translations of Oe's works include the novels A Personal Matter (Grove Press, 1968) and Teach Us to Outgrow our Madness (Grove Press, 1977), as well as various short stories and essays. Born in a remote, mountainous area on the island of Shikoku, Oe speaks often of the myths and archaic human relationships of his birthplace as forces separating him from the urban experience of most Japanese intellectuals A courageous and outspoken humanist, his life and creativity have been strongly shaped by World War II and Japan's postwar experience. Another powerful influence on his work has been the presence of his brain-damaged son Hikari, born in 1960, who has found a creative voice in composing music. A man of extraordinary erudition, Oe is an avid reader of world literature, often speaking in one breath of Huckleberry Finn and the writings of Rabelais or Mikhail Bakhtin in the next. When he received the 1994 Nobel Prize for Literature, the citation identified Oe as "...a writer who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and mythe condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today." The only other Japanese writer to have received the Nobel Prize for Literature was the 1968 laureate, Yasunari Kawabata, a novelist for whom Oe claims little affinity. Kawabata titled his 1968 Nobel acceptance address "Japan, the Beautiful, and Myself," a point obliquely referred to by Oe in the title of his own acceptance speech, "Japan, the Ambiguous, and Myself." Nathan is currently translating Oe's moving autobiographical account of his relationship with his son Hikari, O Rouse Up, Young Men of the New Age (written in 1983, on Hikari's' twentieth birthday). Nathan's other works include Mishima: A Biography, a number of original screenplays, including Summer Soldiers (directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara) and A Personal Matter (Burt Lancaster Productions). Nathan has also produced and directed a number of prize-winning documentary films on Japan, including The Japanese: Three Documentary Portraits (consisting of Full Moon Lunch, The Blind Swordsman, and Farm Song), and The Colonel Goes to Japan. The Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, established at Columbia University in 1986, was named for Columbia's famed professor of Japanese literature and culture. Donald Keene, now professor emeritus, was at his retirement in 1992 Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and a University Professor. He continues to teach one special seminar in Japanese literature at the University each spring. The Donald Keene Center was honored last year by the Japanese government with the Japan Foundation Special Award. Its current director is Peter Grilli. 3.24.97 19,079