Author Osamu Dazai (1909–48) retains an enormous following today. He is as famous for his darkly introspective novels as for the light-hearted children's stories that are a staple of many Japanese textbooks. His novel Shayo has been published in English as The Setting Sun.
Son of a wealthy family in northern Japan, Dazai was a top student who showed an early penchant for literary writing.He led a troubled, unstable life and suffered from drug abuse and alcoholism; he attempted suicide and had numerous affairs, even as his literary fame grew.
A Shameful Life is said to be a close approximation of his lifestyle and struggles. The protagonist in the novel survives, but shortly after publication of A Shameful Life, Dazai and his lover drowned themselves in the Tamagawa Canal in western Tokyo.