Feb 8, 2023

Sylff@Tokyo: Colmex Fellow Analyzing the Zainichi Experience

Andrea Chapela, a writer and 2021–22 Sylff fellowship recipient at El Colegio de Mexico, visited the Sylff Association secretariat in Tokyo on December 14, 2022. She is currently enrolled in a master’s degree program in Japanese studies to explore the Zainichi experience in the novels of the Japanese-Korean writer, Lee Yangji.

Andrea Chapela (second from right), flanked by (from left) program officer Yue Zhang, director Keita Sugai, and program officer Maki Shimada.

Chapela has a unique background, having studied chemistry at the National Autonomous University of Mexico before earning an MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa. She is multilingual, being conversant in Spanish, English, German, and French, and is also an award-winning writer, having published several books in the categories of fantasy and science fiction.

She received the Gilberto Owen National Literature Prize in 2018, the National Juan José Arreola Literature Prize in 2019, and the National Joven José Luis Martínez Essay Prize in 2019.

She was in Tokyo in December 2022 to conduct research on the work of Lee Yangji, who won the 100th Akutagawa Prize for her novel, Yuhi (Sunset). Chapela is analyzing 4 of Lee’s 10 novels on the topic of conflict of identity as a second-generation Zainichi (literally, “foreign residents” but usually referring to ethnic Koreans remaining in Japan after World War II and their descendants). Her research looks not only at the history of the Zainichi but also their literary works and the inclusion of Korean linguistic elements into the Japanese language.

We thank Chapela for visiting the Foundation during her stay in Tokyo and sharing news of her research. We wish her continued success in her academic and literary endeavors.