Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016 in Yokohama

scbwi-logoBy Wendy Uchimura, Yokohama

October 22 saw two dozen translators gather in Yokohama for SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2016. Sessions were held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., covering a variety of topics and all in a lovely convivial atmosphere.

The day began with a pre-recorded Skype interview with publisher Julia Marshall (Gecko Press) that gave everyone a great peek into the world of a children’s publisher. We learned some of the ins-and-outs of how the translated version of a book comes into print and heard some important tips on how to approach publishers with our ideas for works to translate.

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Julia Marshall speaks by Skype from Wellington, New Zealand, with Avery Fischer Udagawa.

SCBWI International Translator Coordinator and Japan Translator Coordinator, Avery Fischer Udagawa, then spoke about SCBWI and SWET and gave all the participants the chance to share information on their current projects.

Following right on, renowned translator Zack Davisson joined the group via Skype and was interviewed by Batchelder Award-winning translator Alexander O. Smith. After answering questions from the room, Zack and Alex engaged in a mini translation joust. Their challenge was to translate several sections from the manga How Are You? by Miki Yamamoto, with the extra added pressure that the artist herself was in the room! Given the caliber of both translators, it was no surprise that the result was a draw.

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Zack Davisson, via Skype from Seattle, and Alexander O. Smith pose with manga artist Miki Yamamoto.

The last session of the morning featured translator Ginny Tapley Takemori, who talked about how she got into the craft and her work on The Whale That Fell in Love with a Submarine by Akiyuki Nosaka and The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui, the latter of which has been shortlisted for the 2017 Marsh Award.

 

 

After a delicious, healthy lunch and lots of chatting, Yumiko Sakuma gave a talk in Japanese about recent trends in Japanese children’s and YA publishing, where the number of new publications is high. Ms. Sakuma focused on 3 themes of high interest in Japanese children’s/YA literature: the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and related Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster; bukatsu, or after-school clubs; and stories of war and peace. Ms. Sakuma recommended a number of titles in these areas and also encouraged us to check out children’s books that have been selected for awards, including the Sankei Juvenile Literature Publishing Culture Award, Noma Children’s Literature Prize and the Japan Picture Book Award.

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Yumika Sakuma introduces a picture book by Kazu Sashida about the 2011 tsunami.

The final session of the day was an opportunity to have Ginny critique our previously-submitted translations of selected excerpts (anonymously, of course!). It is rare to receive feedback on our work, and it was interesting to see how everyone had approached the texts: The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui and Graveyard of the Fireflies by Akiyuki Nosaka.

As always, this event was a valuable opportunity to meet with others involved in the translation of children’s literature, learn more about activities in the field—from the perspectives of both publishers and translators—and get ideas about how to improve our work.

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Participants in Translation Day 2016 at the end of the morning. The slide shows works by Akiyuki Nosaka and Tomiko Inui, both translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.

 

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The Secret of the Blue Glass Shortlisted for Marsh Award 2017

Blue Glass cover

The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, has made the shortlist for the 2017 Marsh Award. This biennial award goes to the translator of a children’s title first published overseas and then released in English translation in the U.K.

This is the first time a title translated from the Japanese has been named to the shortlist.

Other shortlisted books for 2017 are translations from Italian, Swedish, German, Chinese, and Persian. A short article describing each of the titles may be found here at Books for Keeps.

Congratulations to Ginny Tapley Takemori, and good luck! The winner will be announced in January 2017.

Japanese Children’s Literature “Dream Team” to Speak in Singapore

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

Pinch me! I cannot believe that next month, I’ll be at the National Library in Singapore for Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2016, rubbing shoulders with . . . AFCC 2016 Speaker Highlights

 

These are just a few speakers set to appear in the Japan: Country of Focus track at this year’s AFCC. A full list of Japan presenters is here. This dream team includes:

Akiko Beppu, editor. Ms. Beppu nurtured the Moribito fantasy novels by Nahoko Uehashi, which became bestsellers and the basis of manga, anime, radio and TV versions (the TV dramatization is airing in Japan over three years). In a show of confidence and initiative, Ms. Beppu commissioned a full English translation of the first Moribito novel. This move helped overseas publishers read the novel in its entirety and appreciate its true quality. Result? Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness were published in English and other languages, won a Mildred L. Batchelder Award and Batchelder Honor, and paved the way for Uehashi to win the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing—a biennial award also dubbed the Nobel Prize for children’s literature.

Cathy Hirano, translator. Originally from Canada, Hirano has spent her adult life in Japan and become a leading translator of children’s and YA books from Japanese to English. She translated the middle grade realistic novel The Friends by Kazumi Yumoto, which won a Batchelder Award and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction. She translated Moribito and Moribito II, leading to Uehashi’s Andersen Award, a Batchelder, and a Batchelder Honor—becoming one of few translators to produce multiple Batchelder winners in different genres. Her first translation of the fantasy novel Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara won so many fans that when it fell out of print in the U.S., it became a collector’s item and got republished, with a sequel. She is translator of Hanna’s Night by beloved printmaker-illustrator Komako Sakai.

fuji-2_320_320Kazuo Iwamuraauthor-illustrator, created the long-selling Family of Fourteen picture book series. This series—partially translated into English for the Japan market by the amazing Arthur Binard, and order-able from anywhere—portrays a clan of fourteen mice who bathe, sleep, cook, sing and play in ways quintessentially Japanese. It’s impossible to watch them savor their homemade bento lunches, doze off in their snug communal sleeping area, or view the full moon (from a special platform in a tree) without admiring Japan’s best traditions around family, nature and childhood. Mr. Iwamura’s books will make you want to move to Japan.

Kyoko Sakai, editor, shepherded the Family of Fourteen books and many works of kamishibai, for which her company Doshinsha is known worldwide. Yumiko Sakuma, translator, has brought famous children’s titles into Japanese, including the Rowan of Rin series from Australia and the book Of Thee I Sing by U.S. President Barack Obama. Dr. Miki Yamamoto, manga artist, has created stunning works such as How Are You? and Sunny Sunny Ann, and the wordless picture book Ribbon Around a Bomb. Satoko Yamano, singer,  is well-known for performing children’s songs in Japan, as is Toshihiko Shinzawa, singer. 

Naomi Kojima, illustrator, created the classic picture book Singing Shijimi Clams. Chihiro Iwasaki (1918-1974), artist, illustrated the novel Totto-chan: Little Girl at the Window, which is one of the world’s most-translated children’s titles. Iwasaki will be discussed by staff of the acclaimed Chihiro Art Museum, located in Tokyo and in Azumino, Nagano Prefecture.

Holly Thompson, Mariko Nagai, and Trevor Kew, authors who write from and about Japan in English, will speak about their vocation of writing between cultures.

Staff of the extensive International Library of Children’s Literature, part of Japan’s National Diet Library, will speak—as will representatives of Bookstart Japan, which provides picture books for newborn babies in more than half of the cities and towns in Japan.

I get to speak too, and I am quaking in my boots.

These folks have created a treasury of Japan children’s content, and helped to build the publishing world and literate society that support it. If you can be in Singapore on May 25-29, 2016, come hear this incredible dream team. Such a line-up of speakers is rare to see even in Japan!

Illustration © Naomi Kojima

Upper right: Logo for AFCC 2016 Japan: Country of Focus. Above: Illustration from Singing Shijimi Clams © Naomi Kojima

Andersen Award Sparks Interest in Nahoko Uehashi’s Moribito Series

Nahoko Uehashi (Goodreads)By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

Author Nahoko Uehashi has smiled out from many a feature article, sales display, and book obi (advertising “sash”) in Japan since receiving the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing—a biennial award sometimes dubbed the Nobel Prize for children’s literature.

This past New Year’s Eve in Kamakura, I watched Uehashi help judge the TV special Kohaku uta gassen (Red and White Singing Contest)a celebrity sing-off as famous in Japan as New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in the U.S. Uehashi judged alongside figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu and other stars. Already a bestselling author, Uehashi is now a household name.

Her acclaimed Moribito novels have been adapted for radio, manga, and anime, and the first novel will become a four-part TV drama aired beginning this March in Japan. Overseas, rights to the full book series have sold in China, with rights to individual books sold in Brazil, France, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, Taiwan, the U.S., and Vietnam. In the U.S., the first two Moribito novels—translated by Cathy Hirano as Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness—have won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award and a Batchelder Honor for publisher Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.

Haruka Ayase as Balsa (NHK)

Above: Haruka Ayase stars as Balsa in the upcoming NHK TV dramatization of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. 

Many readers of English long to see more translations of books in the Moribito series—as shown in comments to the 2014 post on our blog announcing Uehashi’s Andersen Award. Since 2014, this post has ranked among our blog’s top-three most viewed.

Have you treated yourself to a reading of Moribito and Moribito II? If not, both books are worth adding to your 2016 reading list. Happy reading, and Happy New Year!

Moribito I and Moribito II (Goodreads)

Above: Click to read more about Nahoko Uehashi and the Moribito series at Goodreads.

 

 

An Interview with Stephen Snyder

By Melek Ortabasi, Vancouver

SnyderStephen Snyder translated Kanae Minato’s novella Confessions, winner of a 2015 Alex Award. He responded to this interview by Skype.

Congratulations on the Alex Award for your translation of Kanae Minato’s Confessions. The award was “created to recognize that many teens enjoy and often prefer books written for adults, and to assist librarians in recommending adult books that appeal to teens.” Were you surprised to hear of the award?

Yes, surprised; it’s a pretty shocking book for someone of my generation. It may not be that shocking to you.

Oh, I don’t know. It’s very tight and exciting, plotwise. I couldn’t put it down! But I found it pretty jarring myself.

Even so, one could regard the novel as rather mild by today’s standards; in any case, it certainly deals with social issues that young people commonly struggle with in post-industrial cultures: bullying, identity formation, parental neglect/abandonment, academic pressure, and so on.

But it’s an unrelentingly grim tale and not one of several key characters come out looking good. How do you personally feel about 12-18–year-olds, the age range cited by the Alex Award, reading the book?

I do feel kind of conflicted about it, especially since an adult perspective dominates the work. I don’t want to give too much away, but this is not your garden-variety adolescent fantasy about how stupid grownups are. It profoundly questions adult authority in general, in particular the mother-child relationship and the teacher-student relationship. The vindictiveness of the teacher, the central character in the novel, is something that struck me as a bit beyond the pale; there is no trust left there by the end. In this book, adults have the last laugh and don’t hold back even when dealing with middle school–age children. In a way, the tight plotting and the excitement it generates mask the horror of the content.

ConfessionsDoes the author know about the award, and what was her reaction? I was a little surprised to find out that, like the central character in the book, she was once a schoolteacher . . . Given the genre and the middle school characters, I guess I assumed as I was reading that she was a younger author. But then again, her insight into the tween/adolescent psyche is definitely that of a more mature person.

Oddly, I’ve never met the author; I don’t think she knows about the Alex Award, either. I haven’t even had email contact with her. It was mediated through the publishing company, who had bought the foreign rights; they didn’t really seem to know her either. Up until now I’ve always been introduced to authors and worked with them to some extent on my translations. For example, I see Yoko Ogawa, an author I’ve translated several times, once a year.

Confessions reminded me a bit of another book you have translated, Natsuo Kirino’s Out—at least in terms of its dark topic and blunt style. Do you have a thing for the thriller/mystery genre? Or did something else draw you to the book?

How I got into this project is more a testament to the vagaries of being an established literary translator of Japanese in the US than an indicator of my own literary taste. The backstory of how and why how the book got picked up as a candidate for translation into English reveals much about the contemporary international publishing business. I have a research project on this topic that’s been brewing for some time, and I almost think I’ll devote a chapter to Confessions.

We know that translations do not have a big market in the US; Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose was the only translated novel that made it onto the New York Times bestseller list for a long time. Then came Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2005. This is not a great work of art; it’s a good thriller and as we know sold very, very well. As a result, several major presses decided they would form imprints specializing in the murder genre. So off the editors go to find other “foreign” thrillers that fit the Stieg Larsson bill. Mulholland (part of Little, Brown) is one such imprint, and the editor, Wes Miller, began looking for properties that he could acquire and found Confessions, since it was a bestseller in Japan. He also saw the 2010 film adaptation, which had a limited release overseas and was actually quite good—it was nominated as Japan’s entry in the Best Foreign Film category at the Academy Awards. Then he eventually approached me. I had translated Out, which actually led to other projects as well—given its similarity to Confessions I guess I was a logical choice.

Confessions has won awards in Japan, and was made into a movie, as you mentioned. How would you describe the book’s position in the Japanese market?

Confessions is entertainment more than anything else; the mystery/horror genre is a major strand in contemporary popular literature. As far as precedent for this sort of dark, graphic, and cynical novel, I would cite Ryu Murakami’s Coin Locker Babies (1980). It’s an old book now, but it was very influential in establishing a more “gritty” modern Japanese literature. Along with Nobel Prize winner Kenzaburo Oe, Murakami sought at the time to shatter the static aestheticism of postwar Japanese literature (think Yasunari Kawabata, Japan’s other Nobel Prize winner). This blackness, though, has found its most popular expression in gleefully cruel novels like Confessions.

The genre also seems deeply connected to film. I would guess that the US vogue for J-Horror—an example would be the American remake of the 1998 film Ringu—has something to do with your translation winning the Alex Award. In what way does the book address a US audience, do you think? This perspective can often change when a book travels across borders, I find.

We were talking about lost innocence in America at the beginning; that loss pervades Japanese youth culture as well, so this may be one of those cases where the book didn’t need to transform its basic identity a whole lot.

Interesting. Could you give me an example of a project where your translation was addressed to a completely different public from the one it was originally written for?

Yes: Asura Girl, by Otaro Maijo, was strongly recommended to me by an editor at the elite Japanese publisher Shincho. Even though it has a middle school setting like Confessions, it’s much edgier as a literary text. However, US literary presses had no interest, so VIZ Media ended up publishing it. And in a way it fits into that niche for American manga readers.

Why don’t we finish our conversation with some tantalizing tidbits on the attractions of Confessions? One of the most distinctive things about the book’s structure is that each chapter is a monologue from a different character, told directly to the reader. Sometimes it is presented as spoken language, and sometimes it’s internal. It strikes me that this was probably pretty difficult to render into credible, smooth English.

Minato does a good job with the different voices in the novel; the framework is somewhat reminiscent of the various testimonies presented in the classic Kurosawa film Rashomon. It was pretty interesting to give an English voice to characters of different ages and genders. There’s the psychopath middle schooler, a cross between a vulnerable child and a wise, bitter soul. There’s also the mother of another disturbed student, who is beautifully done. She seems to care for her child, but is really motivated by status. And finally, there’s the teacher—whose wrath at the murder of her child knows no limits.

You’ll have to read the book to meet all the other quirky, twisted characters! Steve, thank you so much for your time—I’ll let you get back to work now. Your insight is most helpful for other translators who’d like to do more in the field, like me.

Likewise a pleasure!

Stephen Snyder is Dean of Language Schools and Kawashima Professor of Japanese Studies at Middlebury College in Vermont. He is a prolific and multiple award-winning translator of a wide range of modern and contemporary Japanese literature.

Melek Ortabasi is Associate Professor in the World Literature Program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has coedited with Rebecca Copeland a book of translations of Meiji period women’s writing, The Modern Murasaki, and looks forward to doing more literary translation.

2015 Alex Award for Confessions

A 2015 Alex Award, for adult literature with appeal to teenagers, has gone to Confessions by Kanae Minato, translated by Stephen Snyder, published by Mulholland Books. Congratulations!Confessions

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