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.

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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

When Translating Japanese Children’s Literature Helps You Meet Ruth Stiles Gannett

Dover Publications edition of My Father’s Dragon

Every once in a while, being a translator of Japanese children’s books puts you in the best place to learn about children’s books of another country. Such was the case when Deborah Iwabuchi agreed to translate the only biography (in Japanese) of Ruth Stiles Gannett, author of My Father’s Dragonand assist Ms. Gannett on her summer 2018 visit to Japan.

By Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi, Japan

First of all, a little background for how this came about! In 2010, Ruth Stiles Gannett came to Japan at the invitation of a Japanese newspaper. The well-known author, aged 87 at the time, captured the heart of Akie Maezawa, the interpreter assigned to accompany Ms. Gannett on school visits. Maezawa subsequently made a trip to Ithaca, New York, to visit and talk to Ms. Gannett.

The result was the only book-length biography of the author of the Elmer books, The Woman who Wrote My Father’s Dragon, Ruth S. Gannett (published in Japanese by Fukuinkan Shoten).

I met Maezawa—let’s call her Aki, as Ms. Gannett does—when she attended an SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016 in search of a translator for her book, which has been well-received by Elmer fans in Japan.

The Japanese biography of Ruth Stiles Gannett, written by Akie Maezawa, published by Fukuinkan Shoten

One look at the cover, with a photo of a smiling Ruth Gannett holding a huge stuffed Boris doll surrounded by a sunny background of white and yellow stripes, and I was sold! (That’s another story, and yes we are looking for a publisher.) Meanwhile, Aki became involved with Puk, a Japanese puppet theater company. Puk was planning a production of My Father’s Dragon and was facing various problems with copyrights. Aki became their point person to garner support from the author of the book. After the production got the go-ahead, the people at Puk decided they wanted more than anything to have Ruth Gannett in Japan to see it. The author, 94, had recently had an accident that left her bedridden, but in typical style, she miraculously recovered and, accompanied by two of her seven daughters, she made the trip to Japan.

Ms. Gannett and her daughters made it safely to Tokyo at the end of July 2018 and, among side trips to Hakone and other places, attended a Puk performance, much to the joy of the audience and cast. On August 4, a separate event took place at Kinokuniya Hall in Shinjuku: a panel discussion by four people closely connected to the Elmer books in Japan, followed by Q-and-A session with Ms. Gannett. To my great pleasure, Aki asked me to help interpret the event for the three guests of honor.

On the evening of August 4, Ms. Gannett and her lovely daughters, Louise Kahn and Margaret (Peggy) Crone, arrived wreathed in smiles and ready for the big evening. The looks on the audience members’ faces as we all entered the packed Kinokuniya Hall told the story of how much everyone loved the books: My Father’s Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon, and The Dragons of Blueland. Many families in the room had three generations present, eager to see a beloved author. Feeling like a celebrity myself, I settled with Ms. Gannett’s family in seats about halfway back in the hall, until it was time for Ms. Gannett to go onstage.

Above: Ms. Gannett, her daughters, and a cutout of Ms. Gannett backstage at Kinokuniya Hall.

The first half of the program was a panel discussion with Mr. Shibasaki, the director of the Puk production, Aki Maezawa, Tetsuta Watanabe—son of the late Shigeo Watanabe who translated the Elmer books—and Tomoko Shirota, a member of JBBY who has successfully used My Father’s Dragon for twenty-four years in library programs to get children reading. The initial talks by these four were delightfully full of episodes about Ruth Stiles Gannett, Elmer Elevator, the puppet production and children and adults who have read and loved the books over the years. I wish I had the room to include all the stories here.

Japanese edition of My Father’s Dragon, translated by Shigeo Watanabe, published by Fukuinkan Shoten

Since this is a translators’ blog, let me talk about Shigeo Watanabe, as described by his son Tetsuta, who traveled all the way from Australia to be with Ms. Gannett that evening. The elder Watanabe was a member of the ISUMI group: writers and translators who met regularly in the years following the end of World War II to discuss the direction in which they hoped to take children’s literature in Japan. Watanabe had first read My Father’s Dragon in 1952, just four years after its publication in the US. He and the ISUMI group eventually chose the book as one they wanted Japanese children to read. In Tetsuta’s words, “They were looking for a book Japanese would enjoy, but probably not write.” My Father’s Dragon was published in Japanese as “Elmer’s Adventure” (Erumaa no boken) in 1964.

Tetsuta, a small child at the time, recalls his father ruminating over aspects of the book—things that would warm the cockles of a translator—such as the relationship of the two wild boars who make appearances throughout the story. Were they siblings? Friends? A married couple? He had to know so he could decide the type of language to use. Inverting parts of words as the excitable Mouse did in the English proved to be an easy task as Japanese syllables are easy to play with. Once the book was out, Watanabe, a young man with a family to support, kept careful records of the number of copies My Father’s Dragon sold, comparing it to Rieko Nakagawa’s Iya-iya-en, a bestselling Japanese book, which came out at about the same time. (Note: It turns out that Nakagawa and her son, Kanta, are both huge Elmer fans! Shirota told the rapt audience how young Kanta had begged his mother to use her publishing contacts to rewrite the book with his name in it and title it Kanta’s Adventure. The little boy only gave up his tearful pleas when Nakagawa explained about copyrights.)

Above: Tetsuta Watanabe and Akie Maezawa pose backstage; Ms. Gannett signs her autograph.

Shigeo Watanabe went on to become a prominent translator of children’s books. I have never read his Japanese translation of Elmer, but I’m sure he deserves his share of the credit for how the books have stood the test of time and remained consistently popular in Japan for the past half-century—as well as for the excitement in Kinokuniya Hall on August 4.

The second part of the program that evening was devoted to Ruth Stiles Gannett. Frail, but elegant and sure, she took the stage flanked by her daughter Louise, who assisted her mother with some responses (the interpreter’s interpreter) and me (the plain old Japanese-to-English interpreter). Aki, who knows Ms. Gannett well, took the job of summarizing and interpreting the author’s responses into Japanese. Ms. Gannett’s English was easy to understand and the audience was perfectly silent as they hung on every word, and remained captivated as they listened to the Japanese that came afterwards. Here are a few of the questions.

Anniversary edition of the Elmer trilogy

Why did you decide to write the books? I had been working at a ski lodge, the snow had melted and I had nothing to do. My parents were busy with their work, so I got busy writing! I did it mainly to entertain myself. I never intended to publish it until someone suggested it.

Why did you choose a dragon for Elmer to save? I was writing a book about my father, and I wanted him to save a creature that was large, strong and unusual.

Why did the dragon have yellow stripes? I drew a different picture of the dragon, and the stripes were the choice of my stepmother, Ruth Chrisman Gannett, who did all the illustrations in the book.

Why did you choose for Elmer to eat tangerines (mikan)? When I was young we got tangerines in the toes of our Christmas stockings. They weren’t available much before the Christmas season. Fruit like that was a rare treat for us.

What do you do every day? Oh not much, I like to read, get exercise, do yoga, bake bread and cookies . . . (note: there was more, but I can’t remember it all!).

Ms. Gannett had a question of her own that she mentioned several times during the short time I was with her. I’ll put it out there and would love to hear from anyone who has ideas on the subject so I can let her know. In publishing My Father’s Dragon, she intended it for middle graders to read, but she has found that in Japan it is overwhelmingly read to preschoolers, and she wonders why that is.

The two hours sped quickly by. Just before the evening ended we were joined on stage by Peggy and the Puk cast as the entire hall sang “Happy Birthday” to Ms. Gannett, who will be 95 on August 12. “Don’t forget!” Aki reminded the audience, “Her name is Ruth. Make sure to get the ‘r’ and the ‘th!’”

IMG_2100

My selfie with Ruth Stiles Gannett. I worried that we would wear her out, but Ms. Gannett and her daughters were gracious and she had a beautiful smile for everyone! —D.I.

Working with U.S. Agents, Editors and Publishers: Followup and Further Ideas

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

SCBWI Japan’s recent event Working with U.S. Agents, Editors and Publishers generated discussion both on-site and online. See this followup post by Ayanna Coleman of Quill Shift LLC, which offers a reflection on the event plus further revision and marketing tips, useful to translators as well as writers and illustrators. Many thanks, Ayanna!

Working with U.S. Agents, Editors and Publishers: Event in Tokyo on June 30

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

Working with U.S. Agents, Editors and Publishers 

Time: Saturday, June 30, 2018, 6-8 p.m.

Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Audiovisual Room B, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (by the United Nations University; map)

Fee: 500 yen SCBWI members; 1,000 yen nonmembers

Reservations required. To reserve, email japan (at) scbwi.org by Thursday, June 28.

Is your work submission ready? How will you know? And how can you make your illustration work or your writing stand out from the crowd when you submit? What are some common errors made when submitting? How can you better your website and social media presence before you submit? How should you handle requests from agents, editors or art directors? What should you do if you receive an offer for publication before you have an agent? Join this workshop with discussion, Q&A and exercises to ensure your best chances at breaking into and thriving in the U.S. children’s book market.

This workshop will be led by the SCBWI Japan Regional Team: Mariko Nagai and Holly Thompson, co-Regional Advisors; Naomi Kojima, Illustrator Coordinator; and Avery Fischer Udagawa, Translator Coordinator.

What to prepare and bring:

Illustrators: Portfolio for group review and discussion; sample postcards for art directors; sample dummies; sample submission-ready picture book manuscript text; device for sharing and reviewing your online presence

Writers: Sample first page of a submission-ready manuscript (or entire PB manuscript); MG/YA 500-word novel synopsis; device for sharing and reviewing your online presence; query letter

Translators: Translated work summary or pitch (your own or examples by others); MG/YA 500-word novel synopsis; sample first page of a submission-ready translation; device for sharing and reviewing your online presence

Global Literature in Libraries Initiative Features Japan, Including Children’s and YA Literature

By Andrew Wong, Tokyo

Looking for a strong dose of commentary on Japanese literary works online? Try the special Japan-in-Translation series at the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (published throughout May 2018). Organized by David Jacobson, this series offered an entire month of blog posts spanning poetry and prose, manga, light novels, chapter books, picture books, fun with kanji, and onomatopoeia, plus reflections on publishing and reading translated works. Several members of SCBWI Japan contributed.

Here is the full list of posts in the series, including many on children’s literature:

Cathy Hirano Papers and More, at the Kerlan Collection

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

Have you ever wondered where the drafts of a children’s book translation go after publication? Did you know that “typescript, corrected typescript, front matter, correspondence, page proofs and corrected page proofs” for three MG/YA novels translated from Japanese by Cathy Hirano, may be found in the Cathy Hirano Papers in the Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota?

Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Kerlan Collection, spoke to SCBWI Japan on April 14, in an event described here by writer Mari Boyle and translator Andrew Wong. Take a look for more surprises!