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Up-and coming novelist and winner of the 22nd Subaru Prize for New Novelists

Mr. Ryo Asai

"At Waseda, I'm part of a street dance club called 'Session.' We even danced at the Waseda Festival in 2008 and 2009. Lately I haven't been able to participate at all, though," Mr. Asai said, laughing. Novel writing and dance may seem like an unexpected combination. However, a large amount of "input" based on a broad range of experience coincides with his realistic novel, which skillfully depicts the viewpoints of a number of different characters. "I enjoy team sports where everyone works together, so I was on the volleyball team in high school. I was also head of the cheering squad and student council president. At the same time, I was writing a novel. The people around me probably thought that I was running around in circles, but there was also a part of me that was calmly observing my surroundings. I think that my life has had a number of different facets."

Mr. Asai said that the reason he decided to enter the School of Culture, Media and Society was because "I felt like I could do anything I wanted to there." The deciding factor was a chance meeting. "I completed the past questions for the National Center Test for University Admissions, and the novel used in one of the questions was really interesting. It left such an impression on me that I forgot that I was taking an examination and ended up reading it very deliberately. The author of that story was Professor Toshiyuki Horie, and I haven't forgotten his name since." Mr. Asai learned from a university pamphlet that Professor Horie was teaching at Waseda, and thought "I have to go there." This year he is a member of Professor Horie's seminar.

When Mr. Asai won the Subaru Prize for New Novelists, he also had a fortuitous meeting at the driving school in Yamagata Prefecture where he was waiting to hear the final results. "The novel I won the prize for has a character named Fusuke, who is the only character who is based on one of my friends. When my mind was occupied by the results of the competition, that friend happened to come into the school where I was waiting. The second I saw him, I had the hunch that I would win." According to Mr. Asai, "the ideal novelist is someone who goes to many places and sees, hears, and experiences many things. With this input, they are able to produce new things. I want to write stories that I find interesting, and would like to describe things in a way that makes people say 'I feel the same way!'" Perhaps Mr. Asai's mysterious fate was an unavoidable outcome borne from the diverse efforts he has expended in a variety of areas. To increase the input he receives, in the future he intends to work at a company while continuing to write. Certainly an ever-greater number of people will enjoy his novels that are based on his keen observation and experience.

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)

Mr. Ryo Asai

Born in 1989 in Gifu Prefecture, and graduated from Gifu Ogaki Kita Senior High School. Currently a third year student in the School of Culture, Media and Society. He began writing novels at age six or seven, and in 2009 his novel "Kirishima Says He's Going to Quit the Team" won the 22nd Subaru Prize for New Novelists. His prize-winning work depicts the small repercussions that spread in the lives of five students at the same high school after Kirishima, the captain of the volleyball team, suddenly quits. The story is told from the multiple first-person viewpoints of five boys and girls. Mr. Asai's hobby is dance, and his favorite movie is "Josee, the Tiger, and the Fish." He is also a fan of the actress Yu Aoi. He plans to release his next publication in November 2010.