Japan trip inspires novel

Katherine Brabon recently released her second novel, The Shut Ins. (Marcin Wojcik) 243682_01

By Oliver Lees

Award-winning author and former Macedon Ranges resident Katherine Brabon has released her second novel, The Shut Ins.

The story explores the Japanese concept of ‘hikikomori’, which refers to the growing number of young Japanese people that seek absolute social isolation by staying in their home for months or sometimes years at a time.

Brabon said she was compelled to write about the topic after visiting Japan.

“I became interested as I learnt that there were such intense societal expectations on young people [in Japan],” she said.

“There’s thought to be over one million hikikomori in Japan.”

Brabon said the forced isolation many people have experienced through COVID-19 restrictions has brought a coincidental relevance to her release.

“For some people isolation has brought hardship, but for others I know there’s been some feeling of relief,” Brabon said.

“We do have a highly structured and fast-paced life, so having a chance to take a break from that has been a relief for some.

“Hikikomori is just an extreme manifestation of that social anxiety and pressure we all feel.”

In 2016, Brabon’s first book, The Memory Artist, was declared the winner of Vogel’s Literary Award.

Before starting a career in fiction writing, Ms Brabon completed a masters in Russian history, which she credits for sparking her creative ideas.

“Something sort of clicked and I realised I wanted to write fiction. It’s quite a challenge, but I think it suits me,” she said.

“I had an opening at the Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend, it’s really nice to get that local support.

“I love the area so much, every time I come back I think to myself that I really should set one of my books here.”

For more information, visit: katherinebrabon.com/