Posts Tagged ‘Moribito’

Thirty Japan Kidlit Picks

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

Looking for good reads? At the last Japan Writers Conference, I recommended thirty Japan titles for young readers (picture books, middle grade, and YA) including about two dozen translations. Here is the full slideshow, downloadable or viewable online. Happy reading!

screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-10-30-50-am

Translator Cathy Hirano, the YA novels Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness, and Andersen Award-winning author Nahoko Uehashi. Click image for full slideshow.

Kyoto Journal Features Translator Cathy Hirano

Kyoto Journal 86 Page 132

By Wendy Uchimura, Yokohama

The inspiring talk “Why I Translate for Children and Teens in a Translation-Resistant Market,” given by translator Cathy Hirano at the 2014 SCBWI Japan Translation Day, a biennial event, has been skillfully adapted into an article that appears in Kyoto Journal Volume 86.

Cathy Hirano is an award-winning translator whose works include The Friends by Kazumi Yumoto, as well as Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi.

With an introduction by Avery Fischer Udagawa, this article delves into why we should bother to translate children’s literature, the benefits of sharing culture, how the English publishing world can sometimes act as an obstacle, and how the translator can play mediator between the author and the editor.

Top: page 132 of Kyoto Journal Volume 86. This issue is downloadable here.

Kyoto Journal 86

Moribito Giveaway at Cynsations!

IMG_1917Members of SCBWI Japan Translation Group have published an interview with translator Cathy Hirano at Cynsations, the children’s literature blog.

The interview includes a giveaway (open to entrants worldwide) of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano.

This title won the 2009 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for publisher Arthur A. Levine Books, and Uehashi later won the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing. The hardback version of Moribito is now a collector’s item. Four more days to enter!

Cathy Hirano and Cynsations‘ own Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak at Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC), 25-29 May 2016.

 

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.

 

 

How Is This Book Not Translated?!

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.

The GuardianWhich brilliant books have never been translated into English? Join the discussion Children’s books | The Guardian

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.

We Need Diverse Books Campaign Features Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

We Need Diverse Books- Moribito

Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign spurs me  on as a translator, and not just because Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit appears on the campaign website this week (click image above)!

Cathy Hirano, the translator of Moribito and its sequel Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi, shares the following from a talk at AFCC 2014 by Stacy Whitman, founder of Tu Books and part of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks team:

  • 37% of the U.S. population are people of color, and
  • more than 50% of U.S. children aged 0 to 5 years are people of color; yet
  • less than 10% of children’s literature in the U.S. contains ethnic content.

In her address at AFCC, Stacy noted that translations—by definition a source of diversity—remain a tough sell in the U.S. Cheryl Robson of Aurora Metro Books, speaking in a panel with Cathy and Stacy, described a similar situation in the U.K., where only 3 to 4% of published books are translations.

Something must change. There are more than 190 countries in the world besides the U.S. and the U.K. Young readers of English deserve to know this, and to lose themselves in diverse narratives from a vast planet.

Also, the U.S. and U.K. book markets affect the reading lists of children worldwide. All children deserve to find themselves in the books they read.

Who can help them do this? Publishers, booksellers, buyers. Reviewers, educators, parents.

And translators. We often operate by accepting commissions, but we can inform publishers of promising titles, promote published translations, and nurture future translators by visiting schools. We can also buy, give, and request children’s lit in translation. We can join the groundswell of demand for diverse books.

Above all, we can translate well. We can help each other to draft, critique, revise, critique, and re-revise stories that engage readers. We can educate ourselves about our language pairs and the larger publishing world. We can network both with other translators, and with partners throughout the industry. Because we are, in a way, agents. We conduct business a little bit like illustrators. We examine our source texts with the eyes of editors. And we are, first and foremost, writers.

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign shows that the translator’s vocation matters, even if it rarely puts money in the bank and sometimes draws glazed looks. (Can’t Google do that?)

Diverse stories change how our children view the world, which they will lead tomorrow. It’s enough to make me slug some coffee and get back to translating a fifth grade “date” in Tohoku.

AFCC 2014 (Part 2): Found in Translation

 

afcc-logoPaul Quirk, Ena City, Gifu Prefecture

2. Translator Cathy Hirano

Cathy Hirano, who has more than 25 years’ experience translating Japanese children’s literature—and is the translator for Nahoko Uehashi, winner of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing—gave a presentation at AFCC 2014 about the need to provide more Asian content to the world’s children. Cathy-Hirano_130_162_90_s_c1This is a brief summary of some of the topics she covered.

Motivation for translating children’s books 

One of the unfortunate things about the business of translating is that translators can only do one job at a time. Most translators interested in children’s books have to fit their book translations in between other better paying jobs, and many people would ask, why bother?

To answer that question, Cathy discussed the importance of giving children exposure to different cultures through books. By reading books with protagonists from other cultures, children (and adults) can see that, although people may have a different idea of what is ‘normal,’ it doesn’t matter which country they live in, or what language they speak, everyone is capable of laughter, of shedding tears, of feeling pain, love or sadness; they just have different ways of expressing it.

So while it may not be well paid, the translation of literature for children is important. It enables children from different parts of the world to better understand each other.

moribitoGoing beyond the translation 

In the second part of her talk, Cathy gave examples from Uehashi’s Moribito series focused on bringing fluency to a text. In the case of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness, Cathy was blessed with enthusiastic editor Cheryl Klein of Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic, who approached the books as if they were actually written in English. Nahoko Uehashi also played an important role in the translation, remaining open to ideas for altering the book for its North American readership. Cathy’s role morphed into the position of mediator, with the final translation becoming a collaboration among author, editor, and translator. Although this collaboration created more work for Cathy, the end result was a book which flowed a lot more smoothly and captured reader’s hearts.

In the audience for Cathy’s talk, there were quite a number of young people interested in translating children’s literature from Asia. Many of them went up to Cathy at the conclusion of her talk to thank her for inspiring them.

Personally, I also felt very inspired from listening to Cathy’s talk and meeting her in person. She is incredibly passionate about translating and promoting children’s literature and it really comes across when she talks. I found myself wondering, does she get all this energy from translating children’s books, or is she able to translate all of these children’s books because she has so much energy . . . ? It might be a bit of both.

The Bear and the WildcatAnd now, having read some of the books that she has translated, I know that she picks great books to translate (other titles she has translated include Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince by Noriko Ogiwara, The Friends by Kazumi Yumoto, and The Bear and the Wildcat also by Kazumi Yumoto, illustrated by Komako Sakai). If you haven’t read these then you really should grab a copy.

One other thing worth mentioning: Cathy didn’t have copies of the Moribito series to show people at the AFCC, but an anonymous donor sent four copies of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit to make sure that Cathy had some available. Of course these sold out in no time, and Cathy donated the money from sale of the books to AFCC, for the cause of promoting children’s literature from Asia.

See Part 1 of this series.