Novelist Ikeido Jun became the winner of the 145th Naoki Prize for his work, “Shitamachi Rocket”.
“I knew that it would be difficult to win a literary award writing a business novel so I’m genuinely happy to be accorded this honour,” a smiling Ikeido said and apologised for his appearance in a black t-shirt because he had received the news at a pub.
Ikeido, a 48-year-old native of Gifu Prefecture and a former bank employee, began penning business novels on the side of a consultancy practice. In 1998, “Hatsuru Sokonaki” won the Edogawa Rampo Prize. 10 years later, “Tetsu no Hone” won the Yoshikawa Eiji Literature Newcomer Award. “Tetsu no Hone” and “Soratobu Taiya” were both nominees for earlier Naoki Prizes. The winning work, “Shitamachi Rocket”, is being dramatised by WOWOW and is scheduled for broadcast in August.
The novel is about a Tsukuda Kohei, a man who gave up space engineering research and took over his family’s small rocket component factory in Tokyo’s Ota district, but is brought to the brink of bankruptcy. He refuses an offer from a big company to buy proprietary technology for 2 billion yen, proposes to supply the rocket’s engine and shows the strength of character of the small factories that manufacture Japanese goods.