Holly Thompson, author and Regional Advisor of SCBWI Japan, blogs this week about the conferral of a 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award to Japanese author Nahoko Uehashi. The translator of Uehashi’s acclaimed Moribito novels into English is Cathy Hirano. Holly shares here her post about the Moribito books, Cathy’s translations, and the prospect of more children’s and YA translations from Japan to come! Thank you, Holly!
This week at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Awards were announced, and the 2014 author winner is Japanese fantasy author Nahoko Uehashi.
Cultural anthropologist Nahoko Uehashi’s Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit captivated me when I first read it—her fantasy world derives from ancient Japan and is rich with cultural and ethnobiological detail. That her complex work was accessible and moving in the English language owes much to the deft work of translator Cathy Hirano and the creative and thorough editing by Arthur A. Levine Books editor Cheryl Klein (visit her blog). Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for outstanding translation in 2009, and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness was awarded a Batchelder Honor in 2010. Kaisei-sha is the publisher of the Moribito series in Japan. Congratulations to all!
Currently Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness are the only books in the series available in English, but, thanks to this Hans Christian Andersen award for Nahoko Uehashi, hopefully more of her books will become available in English.
In the Classroom
Some material for teachers to share with students on the Moribito books and on the fascinating process involved in translating these complex novels might include the following:
Young Adult Fantasy in Translation: An Interview with Cathy Hirano by Misa Dikengil Lindberg, on the Society of Writers, Editors and Translators (SWET) site
Editing Children’s Literature in Translation: An Interview with Cheryl Klein by Sako Ikegami, on pages 4-7 of the SCBWI Japan Fall 2008 Newsletter (PDF)
One Passage, Six Translations: Nahoko Uehashi compiled after an SCBWI Japan Translation Day event held at Yokohama International School, at which Cathy Hirano was the featured speaker
Catching Up with Cathy Hirano by Alexander O. Smith on the SCBWI Japan Translation Group blog
Children’s Book Translation: An Interview with Cathy Hirano by Avery Fischer Udagawa, on pages 7-9 of the SCBWI Japan Fall 2006 Newsletter (PDF)
Interview with Nahoko Uehashi about the anime production
Summary of talk by Cathy Hirano and Nahoko Uehashi at the International Library of Children’s Literature, Tokyo (in Japanese only; PDF)
On the general subject of translation of literature from Japanese to English:
Eight Ways to Say You, Horn Book Magazine piece by Cathy Hirano
How Would You Translate Arigato: Alexander O. Smith visits Yokohama International School by teacher and author Trevor Kew
Translator in the Classroom by Avery Fischer Udagawa
Japanese to English Translation Basics by Kathryn Hemmann
Translating Culture to Kids with Kyoto-based former librarian Paul Evans
Tomo translator interviews and posts on the Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction blog
The SCBWI Japan Translation Group blog ihatov.wordpress.com
Surely the Hans Christian Andersen Award will result in more well-deserved worldwide attention on Nahoko Uehashi and her works. Let’s hope there is also a powerful ripple effect with more attention paid to translation into English of Japanese literature for children and young adults.