(Book Review) ‘My fave’s on fire’ by Rin Usami /「推し、燃ゆ」宇佐見りん

by Miki
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‘Oshi’ is such a difficult term to understand, unless you have your own ‘oshi’ to support too. It’s used to describe the situation where you have a public figure which you are supporting as a fan, such as a member of an idol group or an actor; it’s a term commonly used on SNS. It’s very difficult to translate into English, and I feel it’s rather hard to explain what it means in Japanese too. When this book won the famous Akutagawa-prize in Japan (similar to the Booker prize in the UK, a big literary award), a whole wider generation came to term with this mysterious concept ‘Oshi’, and it caused a bit of confusion. For example, the older generation had never heard of the term, while the younger generation tended to use it all the time.


The author of this book was sensationally featured in the media for being a ‘young girl’; still studying at university. I have mixed feeling about the media overly focusing on the age of the author; however, the book really captures the feelings of youth and young devotion for public figures very vividly. It really represents what we, as a younger generation in Japan, have shared in our hearts.

この本が芥川賞を受賞したとき、著者がまだ大学生の若い女性であることにすごく注目した記事が多く出て、なんだかモヤモヤしたものです。年齢や世代ばかり見ているというか… でも、この本は、若さゆえに推しにのめり込みがちな、現代の若者の姿をよくとらえていると感じます。

The story starts with an incident where a male idol has committed violence; he’s on fire all across SNS. Hardcore fans devote themselves deeply to him, both financially and mentally. This incident puts their whole public life as an idol at risk. Concerns and rumours floods their mind and fill their SNS feeds. With rhythmical language, the author describes the anxiety of being a hard core fan of an idol, and the differences in attitude toward one incident among both fans and society, including friends and family.


The protagonist is quite unlikable – rather introverted. It’s not clearly described, but rather – is hinted at – that she has some difficulty in communication. It’s heartbreaking to witness the protagonist’s inner struggle to face the reality outside the world of ‘Oshi’. Likewise, it’s a very interesting book for people, especially if you are not aware of the fan culture in Japan.


  • This book has not yet been translated into English, however, a translator Louise Heal Kawai have mentioned that she is working on its sample translation on her Twitter posted on 21st January 2021! There have been various English titles suggested including ‘Idol, Burning’, ‘Idol, Burned’, ‘Cheer, Burn’ and ‘Push, Burn’, but personally I feel ‘My fave’s on fire’ conveys the nuance of the meaning best. Hopefully we can find more information soon.


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