by Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi, Japan
Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—an Anthology of Japan Teen Stories was launched on March 10. An event was held on the day at Tokyo Women’s Plaza.
Tomo editor and MC for the evening, YA author Holly Thompson, talked about the purpose of the book—to help young adult readers in other countries feel more familiar with Japan and the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power disaster, and to provide financial support to teenage disaster victims. Holly also introduced Hope for Tomorrow, an organization that will initially be receiving the royalties from the book. Hope for Tomorrow’s activities are aimed at assisting young disaster victims who might otherwise be unable to continue their education.
The remainder of the evening was spent introducing Tomo contributors—authors and translators—sixteen of whom were on hand to read from thirteen of the 36 stories. Focusing here on the translations, Fumio Takano spoke about her story, “Anton and Kiyohime,” and Hart Larrabee, the translator, read from the translation. Lynne E. Riggs read from her translation of “Love Letter” by Megumi Fujino, and Sako Ikegami read from her translation of “Hachiro” by the late Ryusuke Saito. Juliet Winters Carpenter and Arie Nashiya each read a part of Nashiya’s story, “Fleecy Clouds,” in a reading that featured the original Japanese as well as the translation. Yuko Katakawa, author of “Law of Gravity,” introduced herself in English, and Deborah Iwabuchi read from her translation of the work.
Readings of works originally written in English naturally revealed the intimacy of the authors with their work, and (hopefully to the joy of the Japanese authors!) it was validating and wonderful to see that the translators were no less passionate about the works they had been responsible for.
Not all of the translators could be in Tokyo. Remaining translated works include:
“Blue Shells” by Naoko Awa, translated by Toshiya Kamei
“House of Trust” by Sachiko Kashiwaba, translated by Avery Fischer Udagawa
“The Dragon and the Poet” by the late Kenji Miyazawa, a Tohoku native, translated by Misa Dikengil Lindberg
“Wings on the Wind” by Yuichi Kimura, translated by Alexander O. Smith
“Where the Silver Droplets Fall,” an Ainu folktale translated from Ainu to Japanese by the late Yukie Chiri, and from Japanese into English by Deborah Davidson
It would take pages and pages to discuss each of these extraordinary works.