Born: March 07, 1924
Died: January 22, 1993

Kōbō Abe, pseudonym of Kimifusa Abe, was a Japanese writer, playwright, photographer, and inventor.

He was the son of a doctor and studied medicine at Tokyo University. He never practised however, giving it up to join a literary group that aimed to apply surrealist techniques to Marxist ideology.

Abe has been often compared to Franz Kafka and Alberto Moravia for his surreal, often nightmarish explorations of individuals in contemporary society and his modernist sensibilities.

He was first published as a poet in 1947 with Mumei shishu ("Poems of an unknown poet") and as a novelist the following year with Owarishi michi no shirube ni ("The Road Sign at the End of the Street"), which established his reputation. Though he did much work as an avant-garde novelist and playwright, it was not until the publication of The Woman in the Dunes in 1962 that he won widespread international acclaim.

In the 1960s, he collaborated with Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara in the film adaptations of The Pitfall, Woman in the Dunes, The Face of Another and The Ruined Map. In 1973, he founded an acting studio in Tokyo, where he trained performers and directed plays. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1977.

Book List in Order: 10 titles

  • In the aftermath of World War II, Kuki Kyūzō, a Japanese youth raised in the puppet state of Manchuria, struggles to return home to Japan. What follows is a wild journey involving drugs, smuggling, chases, and capture. Kyūzō finally makes his way...


  • Abe Kobo (1924–1993) was one of Japan's greatest postwar writers, widely recognized for his imaginative science fiction and plays of the absurd. However, he also wrote theoretical criticism for which he is lesser known, merging literary, historical...



  • Like an elegantly chilling postscript to The Metamorphosis, this classic of postwar Japanese literature describes a bizarre physical transformation that exposes the duplicities of an entire world. The narrator is a scientist hideously deformed in a l...


  • From the acclaimed author of Woman in the Dunes comes Secret Rendezvous, the bizarrely erotic and comic adventures of a man searching for his missing wife in a mysteriously vast underground hospital. From the moment that an ambulance appears in the m...


  • In the last novel written before his death in 1993, one of Japan's most distinguished novelists proffered a surreal vision of Japanese society that manages to be simultaneously fearful and jarringly funny. The narrator of Kangaroo Notebook wakes on m...


  • The Woman in the Dunes, by celebrated writer and thinker Kobo Abe, combines the essence of myth, suspense and the existential novel.   After missing the last bus home following a day trip to the seashore, an amateur entomologist is offered lodging f...


  • A classic from the renowned Japanese novelist about isolation and the threat of a nuclear holocaust, The Ark Sakura is as timely today as it was at its original publication.In this Kafkaesque allegorical fantasy, Mole has converted a huge underground...


  • Kobo Abe, the internationally acclaimed author of Woman in the Dunes, combines wildly imaginative fantasies and naturalistic prose to create narratives reminiscent of the work of Kafka and Beckett.In this eerie and evocative masterpiece, the nameless...






  • Of all the great Japanese novelists, Kobe Abe was indubitably the most versatile. With The Ruined Map, he crafted a mesmerizing literary crime novel that combines the narrative suspense of Chandler with the psychological depth of Dostoevsky.Mr. Nemur...