Japanese top writers Kaori Ekuni, left, and Hitonari Tsuji speak to reporters in a press conference to commemorate the Korean release of their new novel, “Right Shore/Left Shore” at Hotel Shilla, central Seoul, Wednesday. / Yonhap
By Chung Ah-young
Japanese top writers Kaori Ekuni, 45, and Hitonari Tsuji, 50, have reunited after 10 years to release a new novel after co-writing the best-selling book, ``Between Calm and Passion-Rosso.''
They came to Korea to commemorate the release of their new novel, ``Right Shore/Left Shore'' in Korea and participate in the Seoul International Book Fair taking place through May 17.
``I am very glad to come to Korea. I've heard that Japanese novels are very popular here. I think it's because there are many good translators and readers,'' Ekuni told reporters in a press conference at the Hotel Shilla in central Seoul, Wednesday.
Their new novel is about a man and a woman who are entangled into a destined life. It consists of four volumes ― two for each ― in which each wrote a novel based on the same story from two different viewpoints in the same way as with ``Between Calm and Passion-Rosso''
```Between Calm and Passion-Rosso' is a love story but this novel is about a life story told through a man and a woman who were born in the same neighborhood and share the same childhood memory but live in a distant and separate place between the river for 50 years. It's a story about life in the longer term penetrating various kinds of lives and communications between them,'' Tsuji said.
She penned the story from a perspective of a female protagonist who lives on the left shore from the river in ``Left Shore,'' while he wrote the story from a perspective of a man who lives on the right shore in ``Right Shore.''
``Sharing the same childhood is the big theme in this novel. The novel is not about looking at each other from a distance between the river but about walking together beside the river. It means `sharing the time,''' she said.
``I think there is a river of life and there is one shore from the river and also the other side, which shows a different perspective of life. So that's why we named the title as `Right Shore/Left Shore' which indicate both sides of the river. Reading the books written from both sides can be converged into the one big story,'' Tsuji said.
Tsuji gave a lecture about Korean poet Yoon Dong-joo at Yonsei University on Tuesday as he has wanted to hold a lecture at the university Yoon used to attend.
``Whenever I think of Korea, Yoon always strikes me first. Yoon is a source of my creativity in writings. When I first encountered his works, I didn't know about the historical backgrounds of the works. He is an unparalleled poet. I was deeply influenced by his humanism and philanthropism,'' he said.
Concerning the second collaboration, Ekuni said that it is a tough work to write the novel together, but it's a challenging experience to break down the stereotypes of her writings.
``Co-writing restricts my creativity. While writing the novel together, I cannot write what I want to do. But it gives me a breathing room by destroying my stereotypes,'' she said.
Tsuji also agreed with the difficulty of the joint production which restricts his willingness to build up and control characters.
``It can be likened to a baseball player whose one hand is tied. But it gives a lot of inspirations to write and develop a story into an unexpected direction from each other's reaction. Working together in the literature turns monotony and dullness into an interesting work,'' he said.
With a strong fan base in Korea for her major works, ``Between Calm and Passion-Rosso,'' ``Tokyo Tower'' and ``Twinkle Twinkle,'' Ekuni is the daughter of Shigeru Ekuni, a famous essayist known for his lucid and flowing style. She began her writing career in 1987 with a work that won a children's literature prize. In 1991 ``Twinkle Twinkle'' became a bestseller, and Ekuni began to turn her hand to adult fiction. Her essays and love stories, containing delicate portrayals of the suffering of young women and subtle psychological descriptions, have gained overwhelming support among female readers. Her works are bestsellers particularly in Korea.
Tsuji is a versatile popular writer among the younger generation. He is a writer, composer, rock singer and film director. He debuted as a writer in 1989, and his films are ``Hotoke'' and ``Filament.''