By Emily Balistrieri, Tokyo
Probably anyone who knows a language besides English can think of at least couple great books that remain surprisingly untranslated. Last month The Guardian’s children’s books site started up a conversation to collect a list.
Avery Fischer Udagawa chimed in wondering how it is that only the first two books in Nahoko Uehashi’s Moribito series have made it over. Any other Japanese children’s titles that seem like obvious candidates? (The inherent dilemma here, of course, is that translators don’t want to give away their next dream projects in the comments. Right?! Man!)
We could also examine the flip side: What are some classic Japanese children’s books that probably wouldn’t work in English (and why not)? If a picture book is a masterpiece but the first page is a visual pun, is there anything to do but sigh and savor the Japanese?
Bonus: As an example of the good work being done to allow beloved children’s lit to flow across language barriers, The Guardian highlights Ginny Tapley Takemori’s translation of The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui with an excerpt. Check it out! An interview with Takemori appears on this blog here.