Author(s): Fumiko Enchi
Masks (1958) takes its name from the Noh masks of Japanese dramas, and much is made of spirit possession. This is a curiously elegant and scandalous tale of sexual deception and revenge. Ibuki loves widow Yasuko who is young, charming and sparkling with intelligence as well as beauty. His friend, Mikame, desires her too but that is not the difficulty. What troubles Ibuki is the curious bond that has grown between Yasuko and her mother-in-law, Mieko, a handsome, cultivated yet jealous woman in her fifties, who is manipulating the relationship between Yasuko and the two men who love her.
Fumiko Enchi was a well known female Japanese writer, whose work is often compared to Yukio Mishima. She won the big Japanese Literary prizes in the 1940s (the Noma & Tanizaki) and has never been published in the UK.
Fumiko Enchi was the pen-name of Fumi Ueda, one of the most prominent Japanese women writers in the Showa period of Japan. Her first play, Banshun Soya, performed at the Tsukiji Little Theatre, was a success and a short story published in 1952, Himojii Tsukihi, was acclaimed by the critics and won the coveted Women Writers Prize. On the publication in 1957 of The Waiting Years - a novel she took eight years to write - she won Japan's highest literary award, the Noma Prize. Enchi was made a Person of Cultural Merit in 1979, and was awarded the Order of Culture by the Japanese government in 1985. She was elected to the Japan Art Academy shortly before her death in 1986.