Posts Tagged ‘Critiques’

Creative Exchange Featuring Translators!

Deborah Iwabuchi, Maebashi, Japan

SCBWI Japan had a Creative Exchange on Friday, May 14, 2021. Below is a picture of all the participants. It was exciting to see the diversity of (fascinating and brilliant!) ongoing projects. Along with English books, we had several works by non-Japanese being written in Japanese. One book was entirely illustrations—suitable for universal readership.

Pertinent to this blog, three projects were Japanese-to-English translations being pursued on spec. Let’s take a look at them.

Amy Lange Kawamura is translating Kaeru Fukushima by Yasushi Yanai, published by Poplar, for the SCBWI translation contest. This nonfiction children’s story is about frogs endangered due to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, as well as about the people who left the prefecture and have yet to return. Amy asked the group for ideas on the book’s English title. The word kaeru in Japanese can mean both “frog” and “go home,” and frogs are typically used in Japanese messages about—going home. The question for this title was which nuances should be retained to draw interest to the book.

Avery Udagawa is translating portions of DIVE!! by Eto Mori, published by Kadokawa Shoten. The YA novel is about a struggling diving club whose future hangs on whether or not it can produce Olympic contenders. The story begins with the arrival of a new female coach. Much to the dismay of her teenage charges, she starts off by rejecting the athletes’ forms and not even letting them in the water. Avery’s concern was the format of her excerpt. Japanese books often have very short paragraphs, and Dive!! ends one chapter with a string of them only a line long each. She also asked the group for comments on her interpretations of teenage conversations.

Holly Thompson’s latest translation is Chibi ryū (Tiny Dragon) by Naoko Kudo, published by Doshinsha. Here’s Holly’s description of the work: “A lyrical story of a newborn water dragon that befriends, questions and learns from all sorts of living beings until large enough to cradle and love the world.” The narrative’s opening is accompanied and encouraged by a choir of mosquitoes chanting ara yoi yoi! and hoi sassa! Holly wanted to know how the group felt about leaving the untranslatable chanting in the original language and what it might add to the story.

In Isolation but Connected: May 2020 SCBWI Japan Remote Creative Exchange

At SCBWI Japan’s Remote Creative Exchange on 30 May 2020: Translator Andrew Wong, writer Mari Boyle, and illustrator Naomi Kojima, all in Tokyo; translator Avery Udagawa in Bangkok, writer/translator/Exchange moderator Mariko Nagai in Tokyo, writer Suzanne Kamata in Tokushima; writer Amy Lange Kawamura in Fukushima (photo added after Exchange), writer Alana Matsui in Tokyo, and writer/translator Holly Thompson in Massachusetts. Several of the participants contributed manuscripts for friendly discussion by all.

By Andrew Wong, Tokyo

At SCBWI Japan’s first-ever Remote Creative Exchange on 30 May 2020, translators connected with writers and illustrators in the U.S., Thailand, and various parts of Japan. Joining from the comfort of my balcony in self-imposed Covid-19 lockdown in Tokyo, while muting wailing sirens and brushing off intermittent distractions, I gleaned invaluable lessons on the craft of translation.

When reading and writing stories involving other cultures, we are faced with a culture gap—both between story and reader, and between translator and text. I hadn’t realized that I had no point of reference for elements in my novel translation that I had not experienced first-hand, either as a child or as an adult. Lacking the linguistic tools to play with, what lay before me seemed like a crevasse. And then, at the exchange, my fellow creators gave me the means to start twining the rope and looking for possible anchors on the other side.

Unlike picture books where imagery comes visually, in textual narratives, intermittent illustrations may prove able guides in some works, while others rely solely on the reader’s imagination to recreate the story world. Some stories may never truly manifest in only the words of a different language, but at our exchange, there were good suggestions of how to recreate a sufficient replica using other cues.

Another topic we discussed was dialogue. When Japanese gender inflections and verbal style combine with social norms to create consistent character voice, translators like me are often left floundering with the flatness of English speech. For instance, we work with only two English defaults for the many ways to say and you in Japanese. Add to that verbal styles in gendered speech, and we see the whole mesh needing to be re-coded. What is already there? Or can be read? How much should be explained?

Also, will kappa and seto go down as well in English as ramen and natto?

Well, if the Bard apparently completed three of his famous tragedies when the bubonic plague hit London in the early 17th century, then we can stay creative and connected in self-isolation today, especially with technology. But watch out for those gaps!

Mari Boyle’s post on the SCBWI Japan regional blog covers this Remote Creative Exchange from a writer’s perspective.

Creative Exchange in Tokyo on Dec. 17, 2017

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

Creative Exchange and Year-End Bonenkai Lunch

Time: Sunday, December 17, 2017, 9:45 a.m.–11:45 a.m. (Creative Exchange), 12:00 – 1:30 pm (Lunch)

Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Audiovisual Room B, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (by the United Nations University; map) followed by Un Café, Tokyo Cosmos Aoyama Bldg. B2, 5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (www.uncafe-tokyo.com)

Fee: 500 yen SCBWI members/800 yen nonmembers (Creative Exchange); order individually at Un Café (Lunch—1,000-1,500 yen)

RSVP:  Reservations required. Please state in your email: 1. Creative Exchange only, Lunch only (as space allows), or Both Creative Exchange and Lunch; 2. if you would like to reserve a critique slot and in what category. To reserve, email japan (at) scbwi.org by Tuesday, December 12, 2017Reserve early—space is limited!

This event will be in English for writers and translators; English and Japanese for illustrators.

Join us for an SCBWI Japan Creative Exchange followed by a casual lunch at Un Café restaurant (in the same building).

Sign up in advance to bring your children’s or YA work-in-progress to share with the group for constructive feedback at the Creative Exchange. SCBWI Japan Creative Exchanges are open to published and pre-published writers, illustrators, and translators of children’s and young adult literature. SCBWI members will have priority for the critique slots.

What to prepare for the Creative Exchange:

For MG and YA Fiction: Send up to 2,000 words of a story or chapter, per instructions received after making your reservation.

For Picture Books: Illustrators: bring 1–5 copies of a dummy or story board; Writers: send a picture book manuscript (recommended no more than 600 words) per instructions received after making your reservation.

For Translations: (Japanese to English picture book, MG or YA) Send up to 2,000 words of a story or chapter, per instructions received after making your reservation.

Attendees without manuscripts, dummies or storyboards are welcome to participate!

japan.scbwi.org