Kobo Abe is the pseudonym of Kimifusa Abe, who was born in Tokyo, Japan on March 7 1924. He was brought up in Manchuria where he lived with his father, a doctor of the hosipital attached to the Imperial Medical Colledge of Manchuria. In elementary school, he was educated in the experimental way, in which a teacher trained children to debating and rapid reading. Abe went back to Tokyo and went to Sejo Koko High School, a famous private school. He was later admitted to the faculty of medicine of Tokyo University. In 1944, Abe heard that Japan would lose the war before long and he forged a medical certificate to get home to Manchuria. He earned his medical degree in 1948, but never practiced. After graduation he began his writing career and became a member of a literary group led by Kiyoteru Hamada. Often compared to Kafka , he treated the contemporary human predicament in a realistic yet symbolic style. In 1951 he got the Akutagawa Award by his first masterpiece, Kabe (The Walls). Among Abe's novels are Woman in the Dunes, published in 1962 and made into a film in 1964, and his best-known work, Secret Rendezvous. His plays include Friends, published in 1967. The first of his short stories to appear in English were collected in Beyond the Curve, 1944-66. Abe died in 1993.