top of page
Heat Source cover.jpg

Original title:



Original language



Publication info:


28 August 2019


426 pages



Historical fiction 

Rights handled by New River

Foreign rights excl. Asia

Rights sold:

China (Post Wave/Ginkgo)

France (Belfond)

Taiwan (Sharp Point Press)

Heat Source
 by Sōichi Kawagoe

Winner of the 162nd (2020) Naoki Prize 


Yayomanekuh, an Ainu young man, was born on Sakhalin Island. Having lost his parents when he was a child, he was taken in by relatives, who were forcibly relocated to Hokkaido. As Yayomanekuh grows up, he and his Ainu friends face discrimination and pressure to give up their traditional ways of life. After losing his newly wed wife and his friends to epidemics, he adopts a Japanese name, obtains a Japanese passport, and returns to Sakhalin in 1893. He puts his energy into setting up a school for Ainu children. Meanwhile, owing to Russia’s assimilation policy, a Polish young man, Bronislaw Pilsudski, is forbidden to use his mother tongue. After becoming embroiled in a plan to assassinate the Russian emperor, he is sent to Sakhalin, where he encounters Yayomanekuh and other inhabitants of the island, who continue to record their ways of life and language; their recording will become invaluable anthropological sources.

Set mainly on Sakhalin Island, Heat Source is a historical novel based on real historical figures. It is a tale of two people, the Ainu and the Polish, through the stories of two individuals, and their journeys to claim their own identities from the end of the 19th century to the end of the Pacific War, as Japan and Russia, with their imposed and merciless 'civilization', seek to crush their efforts. 

About the author


Sōichi Kawagoe was born in Kagoshima prefecture in 1978 and now lives in Kyoto. His first novel won the Seicho Matsumoto New Writer's Award in 2018. His second long-form novel Heat Source was selected by booksellers as the year’s Best Historical Novel and won the Naoki Prize in 2020.

bottom of page