Hitomi Kanehara stopped attending school at the age of eleven. After she left home as a teenager, she sent her stories by email to her writer father who helped her edit them. Snakes and Piercings won the top Japanese literary award, the Akutagawa Prize, in 2003. One of the judges, celebrated writer Ryu Murakami, said her book was 'easily the top choice, receiving the highest marks of any work since I became a member of the selection panel'. The Japanese edition of Snakes and Piercings has since topped bestseller lists and sold over a million copies.
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