Oda, Makoto 1932–

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Oda, Makoto 1932–

PERSONAL: Born June 2, 1932, in Osaka, Japan; son of Motokichi (a lawyer) and Tokiko (Nojima) Oda; married Sune Hyon (a painter); children: Nara (daughter). Education: University of Tokyo, M.A., 1957; graduate study at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1958–59.

ADDRESSES: Home—1-41-801 Ohama, Nishinomiya, Japan.

CAREER: Writer, critic, and peace activist. Gakushuin University, Tokyo, Japan, lecturer in political science, 1962–64; Momoyama Gakuin University, Osaka, Japan, associate professor of literature, 1969–72; Hosei University, lecturer in literature, 1978–85; Chiba National University, lecturer in Japanese culture and literature, 1983–84 and 1990–91. Berlin Free University, taught at East Asia Institute, 1985; University of Melbourne, visiting fellow in political science, 1992; State University of New York at Stony Brook, visiting professor of comparative studies, 1992–94.


AWARDS, HONORS: Fulbright scholarship, 1958–59; Lotus Prize, Afro-Asian Writers' Association, 1989, for Hiroshima; Kawabata Yasunari Prize, for Aboji wo Fumu.



Hiroshima (novel), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1981, translation by D.H. Whittaker published as The Bomb, Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1990.

The Breaking Jewel, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Hiroshima has also been translated into French, Arabic, Italian, Korean, and Russian.


Asatteno Shuki, (title means "The Notebook of the Day after Tomorrow"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1962.

Amerika, (title means "America"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1962.

Doro no sekai (title means "The World of Mud"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1965.

Gendaishi (title means "The Modern History"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1968.

Daichi to hoshi kagayaku ten no ko (title means "The Children of the Earth and Starry Heaven"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1970.

Gato, (title means "G-Island"),Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1973.

Hane nakereba (title means"Without Wings"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1975.

Hiemono (title means "A Cold Thing"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1975.

Marui hippii (title means "Round Hippy"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1977.

Tako o ageru (title means "Flying a Kite"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1978.

Fuga (title means "River of Wind"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan),1984.

D, Chuokoron (Tokyo, Japan), 1985.

Bevuvin monogatari (title means "Berlin Story"), Shueisha (Tokyo, Japan), 1990.

Betnam kara toku hanarete (title means "Far from Vietnam"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1991.

Mingan Taikoki (title means "Documents of Warlord Hideyoshi and People"), Asahi Shinbunsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1992.

Ikitoshi ikerumonowa (title means "All Living Creatures"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1992.

Gen (title means "Universe"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1996.

Osaka Sinfono (title means "Osaka Symphony"), Chuokoronsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1997.

XYZ, Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1997.

Ancho (title means "Black Tide"), Kawadeshuho (Tokyo, Japan), 1997.

Aboji o Zumu (title means "Stomping Father"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1998.

Gyoknsai (title means "Breaking Jewel"), Shinchosha (Tokyo, Japan), 1998.

Sakasazuri no Ana (title means "Hole Upside Down"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1999.

Kudaku Umeku Wavau (title means "Break Groan Laugh"), Shinchosha (Tokyo, Japan), 2001.

Fukai Oto (title means "Deep Sound"), Shinchosha (Tokyo, Japan), 2002.

Kodomotach: no Senso (title means "Children's War"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 2003.


Heiwa o tsukuru genri (title means "The Principles of Peace"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1966.

Ningen, aru kojinteki komatsu (title means "Humans, a Personal View,"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1968.

Ningen no naka no rekishi (title means "History in Humans"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1969.

Nanshi no shiso (title means "Thoughts on Meaningless Death"), Iwanami (Tokyo, Japan), 1969, reprinted with other essays as Hisai no shiso, nanshi no shiso, Kindai Bungeisha (Tokyo, Japan), 1996.

Nani o watakushitachi wa hajimete iru no ka (title means "What We Are Beginning to Do"), San-Ichi-Shobo, 1970.

"Ikitsuzukeru" to iu koto (title means "The Meaning of 'To Continue to Live'"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1972.

Kukan to jikan no tabi (title means "The Travels into Time and Space"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1972.

Futatsu no "yononaka" (title means "Two Worlds"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1973.

Betonamu no kage (title means "Under the Shadow of Vietnam"), Chuokuron, 1974.

Jokyo kara (title means "From the Situations"), Iwanami (Tokyo, Japan), 1974.

Sakoku no bungaku (title means "Literature in a Closed County"), Kodansha (New York, NY), 1975.

Watakushi to tenno (title means "Myself and the Emporer"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1975.

Korosuna kara (title means "Reflections on Don't Kill"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1976.

Watakushi to Chosen (title means "Myself and Korea"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1977.

Kyosei e no genri (title means "Reflections on Cohabitance"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1978.

Shisha ni kodawaru (title means "Caring of the Dead"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1979.

Kitei ni aru mono (title means "Things at the Bottom"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1980.

Oda Makoto shosetsu sekai o aruku (title means "Oda Makoto Walks in the World of Victims"), Kodansha (New York, NY), 1980.

Jokyo to genri (title means "Situations and Principles"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1982.

Nagasaki ni te (title means "At Nagasaki"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1983.

"Betonamu igo" o aruku (title means "Walking 'After Vietnam'"), Iwanami (Tokyo, Japan), 1984.

"Mondai" to shite no jinsei (title means "Life as a Problem"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1984.

Mo Takuto (title means "Mao Tse-tung"), Iwanami (Tokyo, Japan), 1984.

Chugoku taikan taikan (title means "Observations and Reflections on Present-day China"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1987.

Nishi Berurin de mita koto, Nihon de kangaeta koto (title means "What I Saw in West Berlin and What I Thought in Japan"), Mainichi Shinbunsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1988.

Hihan to yume to sanka (title means "Critique, Participation, and Dreams"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1989.

Omoni taiheiki (title means "Old Korean Mother"), Asahi Shinbunsha (Tokyo, Japan), 1990.

Isha to shite no bungaku (title means "Literature as a Different Thing"), Kawai Institute for Culture and Education (Nagoya, Japan), 1992.

Nishinomiya Kara Nihon Sekai o Miyu (title means "Looking at Japan and the World from Nishinomiya"), Hanashi no Tokushyu (Tokyo, Japan), 1993.

"Beheiren," kaikuroku denai Kaiku (title means "'Beheiren' Memories which are not the 'Memoires'"), Daisan Shukan (Tokyo, Japan), 1995.

"Kyosura" to "Kyosei" (title means "'Don't Kill' and 'Co-habitance'"), Iwanami (Tokyo, Japan), 1995.

Gekido no Sekai de Watashi ga Kametekita Kuto (title means "What I Have Thought in the Violently Moving World"), Kindai Bungeisha (Tokyo, Japan), 1996.

Hisai no Shiso, Nanshi no Shiso (title means "Thought in Disasters and Deaths in Disasters"), Asahi Shinbun (Tokyo, Japan), 1996.

Demokuratia (title means "Democratism"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1996.

Yukariaru Hitubito ha (title means "On Mutually Related People"), Shunjusha (Tokyo, Japan), 1997.

Korewa "Ningen no Kun" Ka (title means "Is This a 'Human Country'?"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1998.

(With Longinni) Suko ni Tsuite (title means "On the Sublime"), Kawai Institute for Culture and Education (Nagoya, Japan), 1999.

Watashi no Bungaku (title means "My Literature"), Shinchosha (Tokyo, Japan), 2000.

Hitoridemoyavu, Hitoridemoyamevu (title means "Even if Alone I Do, Even if Alone I Don't Do"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 2000.

Senso ka Heiwa ka (title means "War or Peace"), Otuki Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 2002.

Oda Makoto no Azia Kiko (title means "Oda Makoto's Asian Trips"), Otuki Shoten (Tokyo, Japan), 2003.

Zuivon Nihonjin no Seishin (title means "Free Essay 'Japanese Soul'"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 2004.

Shisaku to Hatsugen (title means "Thoughts and Words"), Iwanami (Tokyo, Japan), 2005.


Nihon no chishikijin (title means "Japanese Intellectuals"), Chikuma (Tokyo, Japan), 1964.

Yonaoshi no rinri to ronri (title means "The Ethics and Logic of 'Yonaoshi'"), Iwanami (Tokyo, Japan), 1972.

Min no ronri gun no ronri (title means "Logic of People, Logic of the Military"), Iwanami (Tokyo, Japan), 1978.

Rekishi no tenkan no naka de (title means "At the Change of History"), Iwanami (Tokyo, Japan), 1980.

Nihon no chishikijin has been translated into French and Korean.


Nandemo mite yaro (travelogue; title means "I Want to See It All"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1962.

Shuketsu no naka no hottan (travelogue; title means "Beginnings in the Ends"), Kawade (Tokyo, Japan), 1969.

Retsujin rekkei (stories; title means "People in Landscapes"), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan), 1977.

Oda Makoto Zen Shosetus (twelve volumes; title means "Collected Works of Fiction of Oda Makoto"), Daisan-Shokan (Tokyo, Japan), 1992.

Kawa, (title means "River"), Chikuma/Hyu Nam Publishing (Tokyo, Japan), 1993.

Gekido no sekai de watakushi ga kangaete kita koto, Kindai Bungeisha (Tokyo, Japan), 1996.

Also author of Oda Makoto Zenshigoto (title means "Collected Works of Oda Makoto, 1970–1975"), Kawade.

ADAPTATIONS: Radio adaptations by Tina Pepler were released for H: A Hiroshima Story, BBC, 1995, and Gyokusai, BBC, 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Novelist, critic, and peace activist Makoto Oda is widely known in Japan for writings that address topics such as war, racism, and other social problems. Oda received critical attention in the United States with the 1990 translation of his 1981 novel, The Bomb. A best-seller in Japan, The Bomb concerns the ordinary lives affected by the making and dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during World War II. In a narrative that shifts between White Sands, New Mexico (an atomic bomb test site), the war in the Pacific, and Japan, Oda focuses on many forgotten victims: Hopi Indians who were ousted from their uranium-rich sacred land and discriminated against by other Americans; Japanese-Americans who faced internment in U.S. camps or return to Japan, where they were often unwelcome; Americans who lived near nuclear test sites; Koreans who endured bigotry and harsh treatment in Japan; and American prisoners of war who were in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped. Though some critics found Oda's loose narrative difficult to follow, others considered The Bomb a compelling novel. New York Times Book Review contributor Coral Lansbury noted Oda's use of "black comedy in which the humor takes aim at greed, cruelty and brutal stupidity" and termed The Bomb a "powerful and disturbing" book.

In 2003, Oda's novel The Breaking Jewel was published in English. The novel revolves around a small South Pacific island on which the Japanese are bracing for an American invasion near the end of World War II. Odo focuses on Sergeant Nakamura, a Japanese traditionalist who vows to fight to the end, and his Korean subordinate, Corporal Kon. Holed up in a cave with the rest of the troops, they nevertheless maintain the Japanese military bearing and code of honor as they face annihilation. Writing on the Persimmon magazine Web site, Ronal Suleski noted: "This is a novel that is intellectually engaging." Suleski went on to write that the book "also contains exciting accounts of battle action." In a review in World Literature Today, Sidney Devere Brown noted that "Oda has provided a dramatic and compelling story," adding that the author "tells movingly what it was like to face certain death." Library Journal contributor Kitt Chen Dean commented: "The formal style evokes an epic quality that transcends this one small battle."

Oda told CA: "I began to write novels when I was seventeen years old (Quite young! Maybe I was a genius, but now I am just an old ordinary person.). The motives of my writing novels can be well explained by why I wrote one first novel at such a young age. After one war (World War II), after so many miserable experiences in the war, I began to believe no more would any war take place in the world, but just a few years later, a war took place in the neighboring country of Korea. I said to myself 'I can not anymore believe in tomorrow. I can only believe in the day after tomorrow.' So I began to write my first novel based upon my feelings and experiences under the title of Asatte no Shuki ('The Notebook of the Day after Tomorrow')."



Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of The Breaking Jewel, p. 183.

Library Journal, February 1, 2003, Kitty Chen Dean, review of The Breaking Jewel, p. 118.

New York Times, August 1, 1990, Herbert Mitgang, review of The Bomb, pp. B2(N), C16(L).

New York Times Book Review, August 12, 1990, Coral Lansbury, review of The Bomb, p. 10.

World Literature Today, October-December, 2003, Sidney DeVere Brown, review of The Breaking Jewel, p. 89.


Persimmon, http://www.persiimmon-mag.com/ (February 5, 2006), Ronald Suleski, review of The Breaking Jewel.

Timeasia.com, http://www.time.com/ (February 4, 2005), "The Courage of His Convictions," profile of author.