31 May 2018
Rights handled by New River:
Foreign rights outside Asia
UK (Honford Star)
by Rio Shimamoto
Winner of the 159th Naoki Prize (2018) 150,000 copies sold in Japan since publication
First Love is an absorbing psychological thriller as much as it is a daring social commentary on modern Japan. Established psychologist Yuki Makabe is appointed counsel for a 'mentally-confused' girl, Kanna Hijiriyama, who is charged with killing her father. She will also be writing a book on the case but the motive behind the murder remains a mystery. During their counselling sessions, Yuki finds Kanna resistant to questions concerning her familial and intimate relationships. With the help of Kanna’s defense lawyer (and Yuki’s old love interest), the truth behind Kanna’s patricidal actions is unveiled. Along the course of the story, the two very different women, Yuki and Kanna, connect through their respective traumatic pasts.
While relentlessly maintaining the suspense, Shimamoto brilliantly delves into sexual abuse, a taboo topic in Japanese society.
About the author
Born in 1983 in Tokyo, Shimamoto made her literary debut in 2001 with her story Silhouette while still an 18-year-old student at Tokyo Metropolitan Shinjuku Yamabuki Senior High School, winning the 44th Gunzo Prize for New Writers. With her 2002 novella Little by Little, she became the youngest ever recipient of the 25th Noma Literary New Face Prize and was also nominated for the Akutagawa Prize. After being nominated for the Akutagawa Prize four times and the Naoki Prize twice, Shimamoto won the 159th Naoki Prize for her 2018 novel First Love.