Denji Kuroshima (黒島 伝治, Kuroshima Denji, December 12, 1898 –
October 17, 1943) was a Japanese author.
2 Personal life
3 Literary style
4 Further reading
5 See also
6 External links
One of modern Japan's most dedicated antimilitarist intellectuals,
Kuroshima Denji is best known for his Siberian stories of the late
1920s – vivid descriptions of agonies suffered by Japanese
soldiers and Russian civilians during Japan's invasion of the newly
emerged Soviet Union. Kuroshima also wrote powerful narratives dealing
with the hardships, struggles, and rare triumphs of Japanese peasants.
His only full-length novel, Militarized Streets, a shocking
description of economic and military aggression against China, was
censored not only by Japan's imperial government, but by the US
occupation authorities as well.
A largely self-taught writer of humble social origins, Kuroshima was
Shōdoshima in the Inland Sea and went to
Tokyo to work and
study. Conscripted into the army in 1919, he was sent to fight in a
doomed war against the USSR waged at the time by Japan and its allies,
including the US and Britain. Upon his return, Kuroshima joined a
flourishing proletarian literature movement and published his
narratives in a variety of journals. His passionately anti-imperialist
novel was researched in China. As his health began to fail in the
early 1930s, Kuroshima returned to his native island where he lived
with his wife and three children.
Kuroshima's narratives—like those of Anton Chekhov, whom Kuroshima
greatly admired—are unadorned in style, straightforward in
storytelling, and attentive to detail. Their content conveys a sense
of authenticity, grief over the unnecessary suffering, and above all
the urgent need for change. Despite occasional flashes of humor and
lyricism, the tone is seldom cheerful and happy endings are rare:
Kuroshima refrains from accomplishing in fiction what is much harder
to attain in actuality. Devoid of easy optimism, his stories are
open-ended chronicles of abuse and resistance.
Ultimately, Kuroshima is convinced, only a vast international movement
based on grassroots solidarity stands a chance of replacing a
heartless status quo with a sane, livable world of justice and
generosity. Meanwhile, faced with the daily tragedies of an
irrationally structured world, radical artists everywhere are bound to
persevere in their oppositional work. In his 1929 essay 'On Antiwar
Literature,' Kuroshima writes: "So long as the capitalist system
exists, proletarian antiwar literature must also exist, and fight
For further reading: Kuroshima Denji, A FLOCK OF SWIRLING CROWS and
Other Proletarian Writings. Trans. Zeljko Cipris. Honolulu: University
of Hawai'i Press, 2005. The book presents ten of Kuroshima's most
representative stories and his novel Militarized Streets.
List of Japanese authors
Shodoshima (Shodo Island)
(in Japanese) 黒島 伝治：作家別作品リスト Open Air
Library (青空文庫, Aozora Bunko)
(in English) Against the System: Antiwar Writing of Kuroshima Denji
(in English) Kuroshima Denji (translation and introduction by Michael
Bourdaghs), "The Two-Sen Copper Coin", The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol.
12, Issue 43, No. 2, November 3, 2014
ISNI: 0000 0000 8233 766X