The master of secret sin

By Yao Minji  |   2008-6-28  |     NEWSPAPER EDITION

Junichi Watanabe has forged a great career writing about extra-marital affairs between middle-aged people and at 75 he sees no reason to stop.

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-- Adverstisement --

VETERAN Japanese author Junichi Watanabe has enjoyed a hugely successful career writing about unfaithful husbands and wives. It seems his readers never tire of his tales of secret sexual desires, writes Yao Minji

While very few Western readers may have even heard of Junichi Watanabe's most popular work "The Lost Paradise," across Asia the Japanese author is a household name.

His books have always been on the best-seller list in China and just this week he was in Shanghai for the launch of his latest work, the newly translated "Hydrangea Diary." Like "The Lost Paradise" the book deals with an extra-marital affair between middle-aged people.

The 75-year-old Watanabe has been called the "Master of Modern Japanese Love-Lit" and "Mouthpiece of Modern Man" since "The Lost Paradise" first appeared in a Japanese newspaper in 1995.

In a society where adultery is a secret, shocking and serious sin, the book quickly rose to the top of the best-seller list and was adapted into a popular movie and a controversial television drama.

The book then swept the whole of Asia, transforming the surgeon-turned-writer into hot property.

Protagonists in Watanabe's novels invariably are over 40 years of age and they don't get caught up in exciting adventures involving fast cars, murder or even divorce. Members of Japan's middle class, they lead "successful" yet confined lives as doctors, editors and professors.

Rather than offering suspenseful and adventurous plots, Watanabe takes his readers on an exploration of the hidden desires and unspeakable fantasies of his protagonists, as he contrasts their ordinary daily lives with their secret affairs.

Publishers of Watanabe's books are always keen to promote the "explicit sexual scenes" within the pages but even they are not as seductive or erotic as some readers might expect.

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