This essay considers the nonfictional writings on black literature and American race relations penned by Nobel laureate Ōe Kenzaburō between the years 1961 (when Ōe attended the Asian-African Writers Conference held in Tokyo) and 1968 (when he delivered a series of speeches in Kinokuniya Hall on American race relations). In these nonfictional musings, Ōe posits an analogous existential dilemma shared by the postwar Japanese and post–civil rights era African-Americans. Ōe's proposed solution to this dilemma—a kind of existential freedom rooted in celebrating ethnic and racial diversity—is highly informed by his reading of Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin.
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William H. Bridges; In the Beginning: Blackness and the 1960s Creative Nonfiction of Ōe Kenzaburō. positions 1 May 2017; 25 (2): 323–349. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-3852249
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