SCBWI Work In Progress Grants Open to Translators

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, SCBWI International and Japan Translator Coordinator

Big news! SCBWI has opened the Work-In-Progress grant program to translators. Starting in 2019, SCBWI member translators can follow the instructions here and here to submit to the WIP Translation category. Tell the world!

 

 

This new grant category is the result of efforts by International Regional Advisor Chairperson Kathleen Ahrens and by Board of Advisors Co-Chair Christopher Cheng, as well as SCBWI founders Stephen Mooser and Lin Oliver, in recognition of membership and participation in SCBWI by translators.

Deepest thanks to all!

Note: Translators should apply in the Translation category of the WIP. Submit a translation into English of a text that fits one of the following categories: Picture Book, Chapter Books/Early Readers, Middle Grade, Young Adult Fiction, Nonfiction. As part of your cover page/synopsis, identify the text’s category. In addition, give its genre, original author and language, original publisher and publication date (if published), and rights status (if known). Please also describe why this text needs to be translated into English now. What is its relevance for the market?

Despite the word “completed” here, where it says to send in “The first 10 pages (US letter size) of your completed manuscript,” translators need not have translated the full book on spec. All a translator needs to, or can, submit is 10 pages.

Submissions must follow the guidelines linked above. Submissions will be accepted March 1 – March 31, Midnight PDT 2019.

Much gratitude, and happy translating!

 

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One Passage, Nine Translations—Mieko Kawakami

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

At SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 on October 20, Louise Heal Kawai critiqued participants’ translations of a passage in Ichigo jamu kara ichigo kara hikeba (Strawberry Jam Without the Strawberries) by Mieko Kawakami, from the volume Akogare (Longing). As yet unpublished in English, Ichigo jamu features the same characters as Ms. Ice Sandwich, translated by Kawai. It takes place two years later, when the main characters are in sixth grade. It unfolds from the perspective of Tutti, the narrator’s female classmate in Ms. Ice Sandwich.

In one part of the workshop passage, Tutti expresses disgust with adults who make silly YouTube videos, which are the obsession of another classmate in the stories, nicknamed Doo-Wop.

Below are the original passage by Kawakami; eight blinded translations by participants in Translation Day; and a translation and commentary by Louise Heal Kawai.

For reference, Tutti is Kawai’s localization of a punny nickname, Hegatī, based on an incident in which the character’s fart smelled like tea.

 

Original Passage

大人にもいろいろな人がいるんだろうけれど、そんな大人ってちょっと、いや、だいぶいやじゃない? そう話したら、ヘガティーはわかってないね、今この人たちがいちばんすごいんだよ、とドゥワップは鼻をふくらませて言うのだった。

いちばんっていったいどこのいちばんなの、何のいちばんなの、すごいっていったいどういう意味で、というわたしの質問には答えずに、ドゥワップはすごくうれしそうに話をつづけた。僕らみたいな小学生とか子どもとかが毎日毎日こうやってみてるじゃん、すっごいみるじゃん、で、僕らがみればみるだけ、この人たちにいっぱいお金がいく仕組みになってるの。それは本当なの? 本当だよ。その大人にどれくらいお金が入るの。そりゃもう、すごいお金だよ、やばい感じだよ。うそ。本当だよ。じゃあコーラ風呂とかそういうのみるたびにドゥワップはお金払ってるの? 僕はべつに払ってないよ。じゃあ誰がそのやばいくらいのお金払うの。それは、その、わからないけど、誰かだよ。

[Source: Akogare by Mieko Kawakami (Shinchosha, 2015). ISBN-13: 978-4103256243]

 

Translation A

I’m sure there are all kinds of grownups, but don’t you kinda—no, don’t you really hate that kind? When I said that to Doo-Wop he got all snooty and said, You just don’t get it, huh, Hegarty? These guys are the absolute coolest right now.

“Absolute”? Of what? What kind of absolute? And what does “coolest” mean? But Doo-Wop didn’t answer my questions; he just happily chattered on. Elementary-schoolers like us—kids, I mean—are watching every day—like a ton! And just by us watching, these guys make loads of money. Is that true? Yeah. How much money do they make? Oh man, so much. It’s crazy. No way. It’s true. So do you pay every time you watch that soda bath video or whatever? Nope, I don’t pay. So who pays that crazy amount of money? Well, I’m not sure, but someone.

Then computer time started as usual.

 

Translation B

I mean, I know there are various grownups in the world, but aren’t these people a little (actually, extremely) awful? When I suggested this to Doowop, his nostrils flared as he said, “Hegarty, you just don’t get it. These grownups are the most amazing ones.”

The most amazing? In what world are they the most amazing?! Amazing at what? What do you mean by “amazing?” Ignoring my barrage of questions, Doowop happily continued on. “So elementary school students like us, and other kids everywhere, are watching this stuff every day. I mean, we watch it a lot. And the more we watch, the more money these people make. That’s how the system works.” Really? “Yep, really.” Exactly how much do these grownups make? “They make tons of money. It’s almost scary!” No way. “Yep, it’s true.” So, you pay money each time you watch a cola-filled bathtub? “No, I’m not paying any money.” Then who is paying these scary amounts of money? “Well, that’s, um, I’m not sure. But somebody is paying.”

And so, computer class began again, as it always does.

 

Translation C

Adults come in all sorts too, but isn’t that kind of adult a bit, no, a lot, weird? But when I say that, Doo-wop flares his nostrils in disgust and retorts ‘Tutti, you don’t get it, these people are so great, they’re the best’.

Doo-wop ignored me asking about them being the best of what and of where, and what makes them so great, and just kept talking excitedly.

Loads of primary school kids like us watch them every day, you know, we watch them a lot, and the more we watch, the more money these people get.

Is that true?

Yeah, it’s true.

How much do those adults get?

It’s, you know, a lot. Like a serious amount.

No way.

Yes way.

So like every time you watch that bath full of cola, you pay money?

I don’t pay anything.

So who is paying all that money?

It’s, that’s, I don’t know, but someone does.

 

And with that, computer class starts the same way as always.

 

Translation D

There are probably some strange adults, but these ones are not just strange – they are way too weird. When I said that, Duwap snorted, “You don’t know anything do you, Hegaty. These people are the tops today. They’re amazing!”

What do you mean by tops? What are these people tops at? What’s so amazing?

Duwap didn’t answer my questions. He just kept on talking, excited.

We primary schoolers and other kids watch these videos every day, right? We just watch so much, right? Now here’s how it works – the more we watch, the more money these people get! Really? Yeah! How much do these adults get? Huge, huge amounts! It’s crazy! No way. It’s true! Do you pay when you watch coke bath videos? No, not me. I don’t pay. So, who’s paying this crazy amount of money? Well, I don’t know, but it’s gotta be someone.

And so, the PC lesson would start as it always did.

 

Translation E

I know there are all kinds of adults but an adult like that is not okay, right?

When you say the best, what kind of best, what sort of best, what does amazing mean—Doo-wop didn’t answer my questions, but just kept talking on and on happily. So, there are lots of children, school kids like us, doing this every day, which is crazy, because just us watching means those people get lots of money, right? How much do they get? Well, a lot—a ton of money. You’re kidding, I said. It’s true, he said. So then, do you pay for your cola baths and video binges? I asked. I’m not the one paying. Then who’s paying for all that? I’m not sure, he said, but someone is.

And so our computer activity class begins again.

 

Translation F

Adults surely come in a wide array, but the ones who’d make these videos are sort of weird, don’t you think? No—really weird! When I said so to Doo-Wop, he just flared his nostrils and said, “Ah, Tutti, you don’t get it, do you? These days, they are the cool ones!”

“Cooler where? How? What does cool even mean?” I asked, but without answering, Doo-Wop kept chatting gaily. “See, children and students like us are watching these vids day in and day out, right? Isn’t that amazing, if you think about it? And, the more we watch, the more money the people who make the videos get. That’s how it works.” “Really?” “Really.” “How much do they get?” “A ton, more than you can imagine.” “No way.” “It’s true!” “So, every time you view the cola bathtub video, are you paying money?” “Nah, I’m not paying anything.” “So who’s paying the ton of money?” “I don’t know, but someone is.”

And thus, a typical computer class began.

 

Translation G

I get that there’s all kinds of grown-ups out there, but aren’t people like that kinda…lame? Kinda really lame?

But when I said that to Doowop, he just scrunched up his nose at me.

“You don’t get it, Hegarty,” he said. “These guys are geniuses.”

“Geniuses at what? What do they even do?”

Doowop didn’t answer my question. He just kept on talking with a huge smile on his face.

“See, loads of grade schoolers and kids like us watch their videos every day, right? And it’s set up so they get money from us watching them.”

“For real?”

“Yeah, for real.”

“How much money do they make?”

“They get rich. Like, CRAZY rich.”

“No way.”

“Way.”

“So does that mean you’re paying every time you see them take a bath in a tub full of soda or something?”

“Nah, I’m not paying them.”

“Then who is?”

“Beats me… But someone’s gotta be.”

And so started another average day of computer lab.

 

Translation H

Of course, there are all kinds of adults, but isn’t that type a bit – no, well-and-truly – off? When I said that to him, Doo-Wop just replied with, “you wouldn’t understand, Hegarty”, and infuriated me by saying these people are the best.

He just ignored all my questions – “What was so great about them? What did he mean by ‘great’ anyway?” – and happily kept rabbiting on about them.

“If primary school kids like us keep watching these things day after day, hour after hour, well, the more money these adults get from us.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“How much do they make?”

“Heaps. It’s outrageous.”

“No way.”

“True. So when you watch videos like the cola bath, aren’t you paying them, Doo-Wop?”

“I haven’t paid anything.”

“So, who pays them all that money then?”

“No idea, but someone must.”

Then computer time began as usual.

 

Translation by Louise Heal Kawai

I mean I guess there are all kinds of grown-ups in the world, but don’t you find these kind of people a bit gross, don’t they freak you out? When I said this to Doo-Wop, he snorted.

“You don’t understand anything, Tutti. These are the top people, the coolest.”

The top? Top of what? And how were they cool? But Doo-Wop didn’t bother answering my questions, just kept on talking, all excited.

“Every single day, kids like us watch their videos, and every time someone watches them, there’s like a thing set up that gives them loads of money.”

“Really?”

“Yep.”

“How much money do these grown-ups get?”

“Tons. Tons and tons of money. Like you wouldn’t believe.”

“No!”

“I swear.”

“So you – Doo-Wop – give them money every time they get in a cola bath or stuff like that?”

“Well, no, I’m not paying anything.”

“So who’s giving them this tons of money?”

“Well…. I dunno exactly, but someone is.”

And so computer class began the same way as usual.

 

Comments by Louise Heal Kawai

“I was rather freer with my translation of the first part of this section than any of the participants. Perhaps it was because I knew my translation wasn’t going to be analyzed in a workshop (!) but in general I feel taking a few liberties as long as the meaning is not lost is something to be encouraged rather than discouraged. And I do believe that ‘a bit gross’ moving on to ‘freak you out’ is very much in the spirit of the original. I also cut a bit of Doo-Wop’s exaggeration of how much kids watched the videos, as it sounded too repetitive and I felt took away from the ‘tons of money’ speech later.

“As for the second half dialogue, I think breaking it up line by line makes it clearer, but the use of italics versus regular font also works nicely and avoids the crowded look of quotation marks or he said/she said in the run-on text.

“Although at times the vocabulary and grammar choice seemed a little mature for a twelve-year-old, in general I loved the variety of phrases used by the participants to bring these kids’ speech to life.

“Thank you to the eight brave participants who took the time to submit a translation, and to everyone who attended the workshop.”

Louise Heal Kawai leads the workshop at SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018.

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 in Yokohama

By Emily Balistrieri, Tokyo

SCBWI Japan held Translation Day 2018 on October 20 in Yokohama. The fifth in this biennial series of single-day conferences for translators and translation-lovers alike had a fantastic line-up of speakers with both inspiring and practical wisdom to share.

Kicking off the day was a pre-recorded Skype interview with Takami Nieda whose translation of Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro was published by AmazonCrossing this past March. Go is a great example of a book that while not particularly marketed for teenagers in Japan fits perfectly in the YA category in English. Nieda discussed that as well as how nice it was to work with AmazonCrossing. People unsure about Amazon as a publisher might be interested to know that she found the editors friendly and the editing process rigorous.

For aspiring translators, Nieda recommended attending a short translation program, such as the British Centre for Literary Translation summer school or the Breadloaf Translators’ Conference, and pairing with another translator for peer editing. It also sounded like she would recommend having a day job because it allows you to pick and choose your projects more.

After the participants in the day got to know each other a bit and receive some SCBWI, SWET and submission news, the second session began. In another pre-recorded Skype interview, publisher and managing director of Pushkin Press Adam Freudenheim talked about publishing translations in the UK. People often observe a lack of demand for translations, but he said the key is finding your market. Pushkin’s (and Penguin Random House’s) series of six novellas translated from Japanese—including Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami, which was a centerpiece of this event—has been doing great. Sometimes finding your audience can be tricky, though: Freudenheim shared that the collection of Akiyuki Nosaka stories translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori originally published for children as The Whale that Fell in Love with a Submarine has been doing much better repackaged and expanded for adults as The Cake Tree in the Ruins.

In response to questions about the nuts and bolts of publishing translations, Freudenheim said that it’s easier to publish longer translations or otherwise take risks when there are subsidies or grants available, often from source countries’ governments. If translations can be co-funded by American and UK publishers, that also helps. He noted that it’s possible to be successful approaching Pushkin cold and emphasized sharing your passion for the book when pitching in addition to the whats and the whys.

Before lunch Louise Heal Kawai, translation of Ms. Ice Sandwich among many other books, spoke on the importance of networking, which is how she ended up on that project. She also shared how she localized Mieko Kawakami’s punny nickname for a girl whose fart smells like tea! (Let’s just say that’s what you get when the book’s protagonist is a boy in fourth grade.)

After a sunny lunch break, during which participants could practice her networking advice, Kawai led a translation workshop on an excerpt from the sequel to Ms. Ice Sandwich, Ichigo jamu kara ichigo o hikeba (which can be variously translated as If You Take the Strawberries Out of Strawberry Jam or Strawberry Jam Minus the Strawberries, among other ways) from the volume Akogare (Longing, or Longings or Yearning). Although there were plenty of challenges regarding the Japanese, including the name of a candy bar that was actually fictitious and finding the correct tense, the main exercise turned out to be writing in voice for a sixth-grade girl. Words like “adept,” “disgusted,” and “smitten” were frowned upon, while choices like “super popular,” “stuff like that,” and the exchange “No way,”-“Yes way,” got the nod.

One of the challenges in translating books from Japan, especially for young people, is packaging them for English-language book categories. Author and SCBWI Japan Co-Regional Advisor Holly Thompson led a session explaining some of the most common definitions of middle-grade and young-adult fiction, which can seem strict but do offer room for crossover success. Participants broke into groups for an exercise in classifying novels as MG or YA based on the opening pages. Drugs and sex references were the most obvious markers of YA besides older protagonists, while MG books seemed immediately to contain more family references and simpler vocabulary.

In the last session, Thompson was joined by Japanese Board on Books for Young People president (not to mention prolific translator) Yumiko Sakuma and SCBWI Japan Translator Coordinator Avery Fischer Udagawa in a discussion about Japanese book categories vs. US/UK book categories.

In Japan, the consideration is less about age-appropriate vocabulary than age-appropriate kanji. Then, even if a child is the protagonist, you can simply decide as a marketing strategy that it’s a book for adults if you want adults to read it, too, as happened in the case of Tonneru no Mori 1945 (The Tunnel of Trees 1945) by Eiko Kadono, winner of the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing. Sakuma also explained that to some extent there’s a belief that it’s better not to set ages for books because kids all read at their own pace. Given what people throughout the day noted appears to be a more fluid mindset about especially protagonist age in Japan, it can be a challenge to make English categories fit.

After this nine-to-five Saturday of kidlit translation immersion, surely even the most exhausted of the participants were feeling inspired to get going on some new projects.

 

 

#CantWait for SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018

Translation Day 2018 info with prior Days’ write-ups

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

If you follow Japan kidlit in English online, you may have seen me shout out SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 in Yokohama on October 20—here, say, or here, here, or here. I #cantwait for this event! Here’s why:

  • This will be the fifth biennial SCBWI Japan Translation Day.
  • This will be the fifth time we have welcomed a master translator, of an author relevant to children’s or YA literature, to work with us on craft.
  • This year’s master translator will be Louise Heal Kawai, renderer of Ms. Ice Sandwich by rising literary star Mieko Kawakami. This novella is told in the voice of a fourth grade boy. Louise will tour us through it and workshop another passage from its source volume Akogare (Longing), specifically the story 苺ジャムから苺をひけば. Psst: This story unfolds when the boy from Ms. Ice Sandwich is in sixth grade, and is told in the voice of his female classmate from Ms. Ice Sandwich. It has yet to be published in English. Cool! Or should I say, icy!
  • What else? We will screen not one, but two, prerecorded Skype interviews with luminaries in our field. The first is with Adam Freudenheim, publisher and managing director at Pushkin Press, who has helped launch several landmark Japanese titles in English translation, from The Secret of the Blue Glass to The Beast Player to Ms. Ice Sandwich. Our second interview will be with Takami Nieda, translator of the novel Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro: a searing Romeo-and-Juliet story about a Korean-Japanese teen who falls in love with a Japanese teen. Nieda fell so in love with Go that she made a Twitter account to ask the author to let her translate it—and it worked (eventually)! COOL!
  • Just interviewing Adam and Takami spurred me to send out more work and plunge deeper into my translation and translation advocacy projects.
  • Once I edit my starstruck self out of the interviews a bit, I know they will have the power to inspire others at Translation Day too.
  • Speaking of inspiring, how icy is it that author Holly Thompson has gathered excerpts to share with us in a workshop on age categories in US book publishing? We will get to see if we can identify chapter books, middle grade novels, YA novels, and/or adult books by their innards—and discuss how we think Japanese books slot into the US categories (which also influence the UK and beyond) and vice versa. Is Ms. Ice Sandwich adult or middle grade? Is Go adult or YA? Need there be an or? Hmmmm . . .
  • Speaking of hmmmm, did you know that category differences affect English-language books traveling into Japanese too? JBBY President Yumiko Sakuma—herself the translator of 200 children’s books from English into Japanese, from Flat Stanley to Of Thee I Sing—will be on hand to share stories.
  • Speaking of stories (of stories), grant funding supported the translation of Go and the publication of Ms. Ice Sandwich . . . and pssst, a new grant from SCBWI may be ready to announce on the occasion of Translation Day. This grant has been years in the making. You can find it now if you search SCBWI.org assiduously, OR you can take a hint by removing the H from the name of this cool American dessert product or this ubiquitous Japanese beauty product. Warning: the news may make you dance, or even ice dance.
  • Speaking of dancing, we have a celebration this year, of Japan’s Eiko Kadono winning the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing (aka “little Nobel”)—a feat that required nomination by JBBY, and which surely benefited from the translation by Lynne E. Riggs of Kadono’s iconic Kiki’s Delivery Service. Anyone up for throwing confetti??
  • And speaking of confetti, you will definitely want to throw some when you hear the list—our longest yet—of English-language children’s book editors who are open to receiving submissions from SCBWI Japan Translation Group. This openness does not grow on trees, especially if (like most translators) you are unagented.

So dust off your Rolodex, shred some rough drafts for confetti, buy a copy of Ms. Ice Sandwich to have Louise sign, and bring your dancing shoes . . . because this Translation Day will be chill. Note: You do not need to have submitted a workshop translation to join us for the day. Next note: If you are in SWET, you can enter at SCBWI member price. Next next note: Even the nonmember price is a great deal, thanks to a generous regional grant (grant again!) from SCBWI.

#CantWait to see you at SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018!

 

World Kid Lit Month Review: Riku and the Kingdom of White

By Malavika Nataraj, Singapore

September is #WorldKidLit Month, a time to notice if world literature is reaching kids in the form of translations. Malavika Nataraj shares this review of children’s novel Riku and the Kingdom of White by Randy Taguchi, translated by Raj Mahtani, published by Balestier Press.

On March 11, 2011, the world watched in open-mouthed horror as the most powerful earthquake ever to rock Japan set off a giant wave that lapped up everything in its path: a tsunami that slammed into three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, crippling them and resulting in a catastrophic release of radioactive waste that affected hundreds and thousands of lives.

We all heard and read about the evacuations, the relief operations despatched into the worst hit areas, the scores of people who lost everything—their homes, their families, their possessions. Japan was in a panic; all of the resources it had strived to protect—its waterways, the sea, the very air—had fallen prey to the invisible evil that was seeping into everything, silent and deadly. Radiation. This word reverberated through the nation and beyond. Exports suffered. Share prices dropped. People had little or no electricity. Cartons of uncontaminated food and bottled water were scarcely unboxed before they flew off store shelves. Fear lurked everywhere. Hundreds and thousands of residents within a 20-kilometer radius of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were forcibly evacuated, their hometowns deemed too dangerous to inhabit.

Yet many people chose to remain nearby. Technicians, engineers, doctors and fire-fighters stayed behind, risking their own lives and those of their families to help the nation fight the catastrophe. We, the world, heard the reports, read the articles and watched the news. But could we ever fully understand the challenges these people faced, living in a radioactive disaster zone?

In towns that were as close as 40 kilometers to the epicentre of the disaster, many families soldiered on. Children still went to school, teachers still taught, and most residents made themselves as useful as they could. They organized volunteer centres, ran operations to de-contaminate their streets, and closed their windows against the radiation. Despite their challenges, their view of the world remained as upbeat as possible. But the way the rest of Japan viewed the Fukushima residents had changed. People became wary of the evacuees and residents, fearing that they had been ‘contaminated’.

This did not stop volunteers from pouring in. They came from all over Japan, bringing with them food, hope and helping hands. Many were moved by the plight of the children in Fukushima, who had been robbed of a normal childhood so suddenly.

The Fukushima Kids project kicked off in summer 2011, to give Fukushima kids an opportunity to learn and grow amidst nature—something they were no longer able to do in their own hometowns, for fear of exposure to radiation.

Over the summer, spring and winter breaks, hundreds of children were shepherded out of Fukushima to other parts of Japan, where they participated in homestays, enjoyed hands-on activities, played sport, went on treks, spent time with animals, ate healthy food, and generally enjoyed being ‘normal’ kids. This afforded them a chance to relax and refresh, learn new things and be close to nature again. The Fukushima Kids Executive Committee, formed by volunteers, ran the project successfully for five years.

Author Randy Taguchi

Author Randy Taguchi’s charming narrative, Riku and the Kingdom of White, is the result of time she spent as a volunteer in the Fukushima Kids project, working with the families and children of Fukushima. Through her involvement, she had the opportunity to interact with and interview dozens of Fukushima residents, and she was deeply moved by their resilience and strength.

Her story is the simple, yet thought-provoking tale of Riku, a fifth-grader, whose physician father accepts a transfer to Minamisoma, a town near the disaster zone. Having fresh air to breathe and good food to eat were things Riku never had to think about. Until now. And he is definitely not prepared for how much his life is about to change.

When Riku’s classmates in Utsunomiya find out that he is transferring to a school in Fukushima, their reaction is of shock and horror. “He’ll die of the radiation, poor guy,” they say. Riku’s aunt Midori, his mother’s sister who lives in Yokohama, also has nothing but horror stories to share about the fate of the towns near the epicentre of the disaster. But nothing will change his father’s mind, so Riku—whose life, he believes, is not in his control—puts on a brave face and prepares to follow his father. His mother has passed away, and his dad is the only family he has now.

The story, translated into English by Raj Mahtani, is told through Riku’s eyes. Through Riku, Taguchi has us experience a world where children go to school breathing only through masks. Their clothing covers every inch of their skin, and their heads droop like wilted flowers under their hats. Frozen and canned food, sausages, rice from other parts of Japan, carried in the capable arms of volunteers—these are the foods they eat. Tiny cylindrical objects that continuously measure radiation levels, called dosimeters, dangle from their necks as a reminder of their new reality. Taught in classrooms with sealed windows, sweating through the blistering summer months, they need at all costs, to be protected from this invisible evil, radiation. They inhabit a world where no one is allowed to play outside; a place where only the wind pushes the swings in empty parks, and unused bicycles turn to rust in garages.

When Riku arrives at Minamisoma, memories of his Utsunomiya life still fresh in his mind, he is stunned at how empty the town feels, like a town of ghosts. There are no kids about and he sorely misses running around with his best friend Yuta, and riding bikes the way they used to. When Riku finally does meet local children, he feels like an outsider. He is aware that he isn’t a ‘real’ Fukushima kid. At first, he is baffled by the others. Why don’t they play outside? Why do they all look so downcast? But as time passes, he begins to understand too well the magnitude of the disaster, and the impact it has had on the lives of Fukushima’s children.

The children naturally look to adults for answers. How should we live? What should we do? But no answers come, because the adults themselves are confused. They are stressed out and sad. Decontamination of the pavements, soil, and school grounds happens multiple times a day. But no one knows what to do with the radioactive waste. What’s the point of decontaminating the mud, if it is just going to be stuffed into bags, piled up and left here anyway? Riku thinks. The adults are full of contradictions. “We just want you to study without any worries, Sweetie,” says one mother. Riku wonders if that is even possible anymore.

Throughout this book, Riku runs through a gamut of emotions: anger at his father for bringing him to Fukushima, confusion, sadness, and finally, acceptance.

The more time Riku spends in Minamisoma, the more like a ‘Fukushima kid’ he becomes. This is never clearer than when he goes to stay with Aunt Midori during his summer break. His cousins are afraid to come near him in case he is contaminated; his aunt won’t let him touch anything without having a hot bath first. He feels contaminated, like an untouchable, an outcast. He realizes that this is how everyone views children like him—children who are living in the disaster zone. He sees that he can never go back ‘home’ to Utsunomiya or anywhere. He has lost his home forever.

Things begin to look up for Riku when he and four other children get the chance to leave Fukushima during winter break, as part of the Fukushima Kids project. He learns that he will go to Hokkaido, a place that holds the fondest memories for him, because it was there that his family had their last holiday before his mother’s death.

In Hokkaido, he spends time outdoors, crunching through snow in his snowshoes and learning about animals of the forest from his homestay host Mr. Nomura. He has thoughtful conversations with the indomitable Gen-san and with Mr. Nomura’s son Yoichi. In Hokkaido, no one treats him like an outsider or an outcast. He finally feels like a regular kid. Slowly, he begins to heal.

Translator Raj Mahtani

Riku begins to come to terms with the loss of his mother; he battles his loneliness by befriending a mysterious boy in the woods and a mischievous tonchi. He finally returns to Fukushima, more mature and responsible. He begins to see that his life is his own and he can live it with strength and heart. And that being a Fukushima Kid isn’t so bad after all.

Riku and the Kingdom of White is a valuable story of a boy’s spiritual evolution. And translator Raj Mahtani, who has collaborated with Taguchi on her book Fujisan, brings Riku to life for the English reader.

A Yokohama resident, Mahtani has been translating from Japanese to English since the nineties. His other translations include Rieko Saegusa’s Tale Winds, Fumitada Naoe’s Live with Meaning. Die with Passion and Shiho Kishimoto’s I Hear Them Cry.

 

Reviewer and editor’s note: We hope for Balestier Press to issue a second, carefully edited edition of this novel that does justice to its highly compelling content. 

Announcing SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018

Akogare by Mieko Kawakami, source text for workshop by Louise Heal Kawai at SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018: Japanese Children’s and Young Adult Literature in English

A day of presentations, workshops, and conversation for published and pre-published translators of Japanese children’s and YA literature into English.

Date: Saturday, October 20, 2018

Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Sessions 9:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Place: Yokohama International School, Yokohama, 2F Pauli Bldg

Fee: Advance registration 3,500 yen for current SCBWI or SWET members; 5,000 yen for nonmembers. At the door 4,500 yen for current SCBWI or SWET members; 6,000 yen for nonmembers.

Advance registrations and translations of texts for workshop with Louise Heal Kawai (see below) due by Monday, October 8, 2018.

Registration:  To reserve your place and request workshop texts, send an e-mail to japan (at) scbwi.org

This event will be in English, with one session in Japanese.

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SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 Schedule

8:30 Registration | 8:50 Opening Remarks

9:00-9:45 Takami Nieda: On Translating Kazuki Kaneshiro’s Go

The translator of a searing novel about anti-Korean discrimination in Japan, portrayed through a high school coming-of-age and romance story, discusses the landmark title and her process. (Pre-recorded Skype interview.)

9:45-10:00 Avery Fischer Udagawa: SWET, SCBWI, Submission Opportunities and Speed Share

Avery Fischer Udagawa shares about SCBWI and SWET and leads participants in a “speed share” of their current projects. She also shares about submission opportunities for participants in Translation Day from interested publishers.

10:00-10:45 Adam Freudenheim on Publishing Japanese Children’s Lit in the UK

As publisher and managing director at Pushkin Press, Adam Freudenheim has been instrumental to the UK publication of The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy HIrano; The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui and The Whale That Fell In Love with a Submarine by Akiyuki Nosaka, both translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori; and Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Louise Heal Kawai. He discusses the challenges and rewards of releasing these titles in the UK and beyond. (Pre-recorded Skype interview.)

11:00-12:00 Louise Heal Kawai: On Translating Mieko Kawakami’s Ms. Ice Sandwich

As translator of a realistic contemporary novella marketed to adults, but which features a fourth-grade Japanese boy as its hero, Louise Heal Kawai discusses her process and the book’s offerings for middle graders through grown-ups. A time to delve into the book one reviewer calls “a wonderful example of the power of narrative voice.”

Lunch—Bring a lunch, and “talk shop” with fellow translators in the event room or nearby Minato-no-Mieru Oka Park.

1:00-2:30 Louise Heal Kawai: Translation Workshop

Louise Heal Kawai critiques participants’ translations of selected excerpts from a portion of Akogare, the book by Mieko Kawakami containing Ms. Ice Sandwich. Meant to follow Ms. Ice Sandwich, this portion is as yet unpublished in English, and foregrounds the voice of the Japanese girl from Ms. Ice Sandwich, who is now in sixth grade.

Translation Day participants must submit their translations of the selected text for this workshop by October 8, 2018. To request the text and register for Translation Day, send an e-mail to japan (at) scbwi.org

2:45-3:15 Holly Thompson: Workshop on US Middle Grade and Young Adult Categories

Publishing translations in the US (and beyond) requires knowledge of the age and marketing categories used in the children’s/teen publishing industry there. Holly Thompson demystifies these categories by sharing excerpts from recently published novels.

3:30-4:15 Panel Discussion: When Japanese Novels Meet US Book Categories

Professionals who market Japanese novels in the US discuss US and Japanese book marketing categories. What can happen when Japanese novels are placed in American-style MG, YA, or adult categories—or handled as category-crossing “crossover” titles?

4:15-4:45 Discussion/Q & A and Closing Comments

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SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 Speakers and Panelists

Louise Heal Kawai was born in Manchester, England. She worked as a translator and teacher for more than twenty years in Nagoya, Japan, and also spent a short time living in Fort Worth, Texas, before moving to Yokohama. Her published translations include Milk by Tamaki Daido, which appeared in the short story anthology Inside and Other Short Fiction;  Shoko Tendo’s best-selling autobiography Yakuza Moon; a novel by feminist writer and poet Taeko Tomioka called Building Waves; and the novel The Island of Expectation by Ito Ogawa. Kawai translated an excerpt from Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami into Northern English dialect for Words Without Borders, before translating Ms. Ice Sandwich by the same author. In a contrasting vein, she has translated A Quiet Place by crime writer Seicho Matsumoto and the investigative thriller Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, published in 2018. She teaches English at Waseda University, Tokyo. An interview with her about Ms. Ice Sandwich is here.

Takami Nieda was born in New York. She has translated and edited more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction including The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto, Body by Asa Nonami, and The Cage of Zeus by Sayuri Ueda, as well as The Art of Ponyo by Hayao Miyazaki. Her recent translation of Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro has been described as delivering a “witty, sarcastic narrative voice [that] conveys great poignancy.” Her translations have also appeared in Words Without BordersAsymptote, and PEN America. Nieda teaches writing and literature at Seattle Central College in Washington State. She responds to an interview about Go! here.

Adam Freudenheim was born in Baltimore and lived in Germany for a time before moving to the UK in 1997. He served as publisher of Penguin Classics, Modern Classics and Reference from 2004 to 2012 before joining Pushkin Press, where he has launched several imprints, including Pushkin Children’s Books. He has overseen the publication of many acclaimed translations for children, including The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius, translated from Swedish by Peter Graves; The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson; My Sweet Orange Tree by Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos, translated from Brazilian Portuguese by Alison Entrekin; and a number of landmark Japanese titles.

Yumiko Sakuma was born in Tokyo and worked as an interpreter and in-house editor before becoming a freelance editor, translator, critic, and professor of Japanese children’s literature. She has translated more than 200 children’s books into Japanese, and her work has garnered many awards, including the Sankei Juvenile Literature Publishing Culture Award. She also researches African literature and runs a project promoting African children’s books in Japan. Her blog and her essay “What Exactly Is Translation?”  translated by Deborah Iwabuchi are helpful reading for Japanese-to-English translators. Ms. Sakuma serves as President of the Japanese Board on Books for Young People (JBBY).

Holly Thompson is originally from Massachusetts and lives in Kamakura. Her writings include the picture books One Wave at a TimeTwilight Chant, and The Wakame Gatherers; the middle grade novel Falling into the Dragon’s Mouth; the young adult verse novels Orchards and The Language Inside; and the adult novel Ash. She is venturing into translation. She serves as SCBWI Japan Co-Regional Advisor.

Avery Fischer Udagawa grew up in Kansas and lives near Bangkok. Her translations include the story “Festival Time” by Ippei Mogami in The Best Asian Short Stories 2018, forthcoming from Kitaab, and the middle grade novel Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba, forthcoming from Chin Music Press. She serves as SCBWI International Translator Coordinator and SCBWI Japan Translator Coordinator.

japan.scbwi.org

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Save the Date! SCBWI Japan Translation Day on October 20, 2018

It’s back! The biennial SCBWI Japan Translation Day will take place on October 20, 2018, in Yokohama—and feature as workshop leader Louise Heal Kawai, translator of Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami. A “quixotic and funny tale about first love” for a boy in his fourth year of primary school, Ms. Ice Sandwich was published in English by Pushkin Press (UK) and Penguin Random House (US), and appeals to middle grade readers up. Publisher Adam Freudenheim will speak by prerecorded video about the novel and about Pushkin, home to several landmark translations about and for the young. In addition, speaking by prerecorded video from Seattle, translator Takami Nieda will discuss her rendering of Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro, an intense coming-of-age story featuring a Korean teen raised in Japan. Watch this space for the full program, and plan to join us in Yokohama!

Prior Translation Days: 2016 / 2014 / 2012 / 2010