By means of his short stories, which were first published in journals and then collected in books during the early 1950’s, Kb Abe carved a special niche in the postwar Japanese literary scene. His story “Akai mayu” (“Red Cocoon”), first published in December, 1950, was awarded the Postwar Literature Prize. His first collection of short stories, Chin’nysha (1952; intruders), took its title from one of his best-received tales, a satiric allegory on counterfeit democracy in postwar Japan. Later, he transformed the title story, “Intruders,” into the play Tomodachi (pr., pb. 1967; Friends, 1969). Two of Abe’s early stories, “Kabe” (“The Wall”) and “S. Karuma-shi-no hanzai” (“S. Karuma’s Crime”), were awarded the coveted Akutagawa Prize for portraying a Kafkaesque world that stresses the qualities of irrationality, surrealism, and frustration in contemporary life. His radio drama B ni natta otoko (pr., pb. 1969; The Man Who Turned into a Stick, 1975—a later version for theater) received a Cultural Festival Prize. Another of his radio dramas earned a second-place prize in the Public Broadcasting Cultural Festival in 1958. His masterpiece novel, The Woman in the Dunes, won the Yomiuri Literature Prize in 1960 on the basis of an earlier, serialized version. As the doyen of living Japanese writers who enjoyed an international reputation, Abe transcended the cultural code of his native country. His works deal with issues that relate to individuals and societies everywhere. The basic themes that underlie his best-known novels are those of alienation and identity, two poles that regulate human existence in social groups.