Ryunosuke Akutagawa was one of Japan's leading literary figures in the Taisho period in Japan. Regarded as the father of the Japanese short story, he produced over 150 in his short lifetime and is renowned as a pre-eminent prose stylist and modernist whose work ranges from the fantastical and supernatural to the psychological and formally unconventional. Haunted by the fear that he would inherit his mother's madness, his mental health deteriorated rapidly towards the end of his life and he committed suicide aged 35 by taking an overdose of barbital.
One never tires of reading and re-reading his work. Akutagawa was a born short-story writer. - Haruki Murakami The quintessential writer of his era. - David Pearce Extravagance and horror and in his work but never in his style, which is always crystal-clear. - Jorge Luis Borges He was both traditional and experimental and always compelling and fearless... There is no writer quite like him. - Howard Norman