Posts Tagged ‘Pushkin Children’s Books’

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 in Yokohama

By Emily Balistrieri, Tokyo

SCBWI Japan held Translation Day 2018 on October 20 in Yokohama. The fifth in this biennial series of single-day conferences for translators and translation-lovers alike had a fantastic line-up of speakers with both inspiring and practical wisdom to share.

Kicking off the day was a pre-recorded Skype interview with Takami Nieda whose translation of Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro was published by AmazonCrossing this past March. Go is a great example of a book that while not particularly marketed for teenagers in Japan fits perfectly in the YA category in English. Nieda discussed that as well as how nice it was to work with AmazonCrossing. People unsure about Amazon as a publisher might be interested to know that she found the editors friendly and the editing process rigorous.

For aspiring translators, Nieda recommended attending a short translation program, such as the British Centre for Literary Translation summer school or the Breadloaf Translators’ Conference, and pairing with another translator for peer editing. It also sounded like she would recommend having a day job because it allows you to pick and choose your projects more.

After the participants in the day got to know each other a bit and receive some SCBWI, SWET and submission news, the second session began. In another pre-recorded Skype interview, publisher and managing director of Pushkin Press Adam Freudenheim talked about publishing translations in the UK. People often observe a lack of demand for translations, but he said the key is finding your market. Pushkin’s (and Penguin Random House’s) series of six novellas translated from Japanese—including Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami, which was a centerpiece of this event—has been doing great. Sometimes finding your audience can be tricky, though: Freudenheim shared that the collection of Akiyuki Nosaka stories translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori originally published for children as The Whale that Fell in Love with a Submarine has been doing much better repackaged and expanded for adults as The Cake Tree in the Ruins.

In response to questions about the nuts and bolts of publishing translations, Freudenheim said that it’s easier to publish longer translations or otherwise take risks when there are subsidies or grants available, often from source countries’ governments. If translations can be co-funded by American and UK publishers, that also helps. He noted that it’s possible to be successful approaching Pushkin cold and emphasized sharing your passion for the book when pitching in addition to the whats and the whys.

Before lunch Louise Heal Kawai, translation of Ms. Ice Sandwich among many other books, spoke on the importance of networking, which is how she ended up on that project. She also shared how she localized Mieko Kawakami’s punny nickname for a girl whose fart smells like tea! (Let’s just say that’s what you get when the book’s protagonist is a boy in fourth grade.)

After a sunny lunch break, during which participants could practice her networking advice, Kawai led a translation workshop on an excerpt from the sequel to Ms. Ice Sandwich, Ichigo jamu kara ichigo o hikeba (which can be variously translated as If You Take the Strawberries Out of Strawberry Jam or Strawberry Jam Minus the Strawberries, among other ways) from the volume Akogare (Longing, or Longings or Yearning). Although there were plenty of challenges regarding the Japanese, including the name of a candy bar that was actually fictitious and finding the correct tense, the main exercise turned out to be writing in voice for a sixth-grade girl. Words like “adept,” “disgusted,” and “smitten” were frowned upon, while choices like “super popular,” “stuff like that,” and the exchange “No way,”-“Yes way,” got the nod.

One of the challenges in translating books from Japan, especially for young people, is packaging them for English-language book categories. Author and SCBWI Japan Co-Regional Advisor Holly Thompson led a session explaining some of the most common definitions of middle-grade and young-adult fiction, which can seem strict but do offer room for crossover success. Participants broke into groups for an exercise in classifying novels as MG or YA based on the opening pages. Drugs and sex references were the most obvious markers of YA besides older protagonists, while MG books seemed immediately to contain more family references and simpler vocabulary.

In the last session, Thompson was joined by Japanese Board on Books for Young People president (not to mention prolific translator) Yumiko Sakuma and SCBWI Japan Translator Coordinator Avery Fischer Udagawa in a discussion about Japanese book categories vs. US/UK book categories.

In Japan, the consideration is less about age-appropriate vocabulary than age-appropriate kanji. Then, even if a child is the protagonist, you can simply decide as a marketing strategy that it’s a book for adults if you want adults to read it, too, as happened in the case of Tonneru no Mori 1945 (The Tunnel of Trees 1945) by Eiko Kadono, winner of the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing. Sakuma also explained that to some extent there’s a belief that it’s better not to set ages for books because kids all read at their own pace. Given what people throughout the day noted appears to be a more fluid mindset about especially protagonist age in Japan, it can be a challenge to make English categories fit.

After this nine-to-five Saturday of kidlit translation immersion, surely even the most exhausted of the participants were feeling inspired to get going on some new projects.

 

 

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Announcing SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018

Akogare by Mieko Kawakami, source text for workshop by Louise Heal Kawai at SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018: Japanese Children’s and Young Adult Literature in English

A day of presentations, workshops, and conversation for published and pre-published translators of Japanese children’s and YA literature into English.

Date: Saturday, October 20, 2018

Time: Registration 8:30 a.m. Sessions 9:00 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Place: Yokohama International School, Yokohama, 2F Pauli Bldg

Fee: Advance registration 3,500 yen for current SCBWI or SWET members; 5,000 yen for nonmembers. At the door 4,500 yen for current SCBWI or SWET members; 6,000 yen for nonmembers.

Advance registrations and translations of texts for workshop with Louise Heal Kawai (see below) due by Monday, October 8, 2018.

Registration:  To reserve your place and request workshop texts, send an e-mail to japan (at) scbwi.org

This event will be in English, with one session in Japanese.

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SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 Schedule

8:30 Registration | 8:50 Opening Remarks

9:00-9:45 Takami Nieda: On Translating Kazuki Kaneshiro’s Go

The translator of a searing novel about anti-Korean discrimination in Japan, portrayed through a high school coming-of-age and romance story, discusses the landmark title and her process. (Pre-recorded Skype interview.)

9:45-10:00 Avery Fischer Udagawa: SWET, SCBWI, Submission Opportunities and Speed Share

Avery Fischer Udagawa shares about SCBWI and SWET and leads participants in a “speed share” of their current projects. She also shares about submission opportunities for participants in Translation Day from interested publishers.

10:00-10:45 Adam Freudenheim on Publishing Japanese Children’s Lit in the UK

As publisher and managing director at Pushkin Press, Adam Freudenheim has been instrumental to the UK publication of The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy HIrano; The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui and The Whale That Fell In Love with a Submarine by Akiyuki Nosaka, both translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori; and Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Louise Heal Kawai. He discusses the challenges and rewards of releasing these titles in the UK and beyond. (Pre-recorded Skype interview.)

11:00-12:00 Louise Heal Kawai: On Translating Mieko Kawakami’s Ms. Ice Sandwich

As translator of a realistic contemporary novella marketed to adults, but which features a fourth-grade Japanese boy as its hero, Louise Heal Kawai discusses her process and the book’s offerings for middle graders through grown-ups. A time to delve into the book one reviewer calls “a wonderful example of the power of narrative voice.”

Lunch—Bring a lunch, and “talk shop” with fellow translators in the event room or nearby Minato-no-Mieru Oka Park.

1:00-2:30 Louise Heal Kawai: Translation Workshop

Louise Heal Kawai critiques participants’ translations of selected excerpts from a portion of Akogare, the book by Mieko Kawakami containing Ms. Ice Sandwich. Meant to follow Ms. Ice Sandwich, this portion is as yet unpublished in English, and foregrounds the voice of the Japanese girl from Ms. Ice Sandwich, who is now in sixth grade.

Translation Day participants must submit their translations of the selected text for this workshop by October 8, 2018. To request the text and register for Translation Day, send an e-mail to japan (at) scbwi.org

2:45-3:15 Holly Thompson: Workshop on US Middle Grade and Young Adult Categories

Publishing translations in the US (and beyond) requires knowledge of the age and marketing categories used in the children’s/teen publishing industry there. Holly Thompson demystifies these categories by sharing excerpts from recently published novels.

3:30-4:15 Panel Discussion: When Japanese Novels Meet US Book Categories

Professionals who market Japanese novels in the US discuss US and Japanese book marketing categories. What can happen when Japanese novels are placed in American-style MG, YA, or adult categories—or handled as category-crossing “crossover” titles?

4:15-4:45 Discussion/Q & A and Closing Comments

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SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 Speakers and Panelists

Louise Heal Kawai was born in Manchester, England. She worked as a translator and teacher for more than twenty years in Nagoya, Japan, and also spent a short time living in Fort Worth, Texas, before moving to Yokohama. Her published translations include Milk by Tamaki Daido, which appeared in the short story anthology Inside and Other Short Fiction;  Shoko Tendo’s best-selling autobiography Yakuza Moon; a novel by feminist writer and poet Taeko Tomioka called Building Waves; and the novel The Island of Expectation by Ito Ogawa. Kawai translated an excerpt from Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami into Northern English dialect for Words Without Borders, before translating Ms. Ice Sandwich by the same author. In a contrasting vein, she has translated A Quiet Place by crime writer Seicho Matsumoto and the investigative thriller Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, published in 2018. She teaches English at Waseda University, Tokyo. An interview with her about Ms. Ice Sandwich is here.

Takami Nieda was born in New York. She has translated and edited more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction including The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto, Body by Asa Nonami, and The Cage of Zeus by Sayuri Ueda, as well as The Art of Ponyo by Hayao Miyazaki. Her recent translation of Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro has been described as delivering a “witty, sarcastic narrative voice [that] conveys great poignancy.” Her translations have also appeared in Words Without BordersAsymptote, and PEN America. Nieda teaches writing and literature at Seattle Central College in Washington State. She responds to an interview about Go! here.

Adam Freudenheim was born in Baltimore and lived in Germany for a time before moving to the UK in 1997. He served as publisher of Penguin Classics, Modern Classics and Reference from 2004 to 2012 before joining Pushkin Press, where he has launched several imprints, including Pushkin Children’s Books. He has overseen the publication of many acclaimed translations for children, including The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius, translated from Swedish by Peter Graves; The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson; My Sweet Orange Tree by Jose Mauro de Vasconcelos, translated from Brazilian Portuguese by Alison Entrekin; and a number of landmark Japanese titles.

Yumiko Sakuma was born in Tokyo and worked as an interpreter and in-house editor before becoming a freelance editor, translator, critic, and professor of Japanese children’s literature. She has translated more than 200 children’s books into Japanese, and her work has garnered many awards, including the Sankei Juvenile Literature Publishing Culture Award. She also researches African literature and runs a project promoting African children’s books in Japan. Her blog and her essay “What Exactly Is Translation?”  translated by Deborah Iwabuchi are helpful reading for Japanese-to-English translators. Ms. Sakuma serves as President of the Japanese Board on Books for Young People (JBBY).

Holly Thompson is originally from Massachusetts and lives in Kamakura. Her writings include the picture books One Wave at a TimeTwilight Chant, and The Wakame Gatherers; the middle grade novel Falling into the Dragon’s Mouth; the young adult verse novels Orchards and The Language Inside; and the adult novel Ash. She is venturing into translation. She serves as SCBWI Japan Co-Regional Advisor.

Avery Fischer Udagawa grew up in Kansas and lives near Bangkok. Her translations include the story “Festival Time” by Ippei Mogami in The Best Asian Short Stories 2018, forthcoming from Kitaab, and the middle grade novel Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba, forthcoming from Chin Music Press. She serves as SCBWI International Translator Coordinator and SCBWI Japan Translator Coordinator.

japan.scbwi.org

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An Interview with Ginny Tapley Takemori

Ginny Tapley TakemoriBy Sako Ikegami, Kobe

Ginny Tapley Takemori is a British translator based in rural Ibaraki, Japan, who has translated fiction by more than a dozen early modern and contemporary Japanese writers. Two of her translations are due out this year from Pushkin Children’s Books: The Whale That Fell In Love With a Submarine by Akiyuki Nosaka and The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui.

Takemori will discuss both titles at an event in Tokyo on June 20, 2015: On Whales, Blue Glass, War and Young People.

Here she introduces The Whale That Fell In Love With a Submarine.

Sako Ikegami: First, please allow me to congratulate you on the publication of such a historically important translation. It’s a beautiful rendition of Akiyuki Nosaka’s seminal, autobiographical work.

Ginny Tapley Takemori: Thank you very much. I’m honoured to have had the opportunity to translate it, and delighted that you enjoyed my translation.

Could you tell us a bit about Nosaka and the background of this story collection?

Nosaka experienced the war as a child, and lost his adoptive parents in the bombing of Kobe. He was evacuated along with his younger sister, who died of starvation. He went on to become an extraordinary public figure in Japan, famous as a prolific writer, scriptwriter, chanson singer, comedian (rakugo and manzai), TV personality, and even politician. The stories in The Whale That Fell In Love With a Submarine reflect his horrifying wartime experiences, and their profoundly antiwar message is emphasised by setting them all on 15 August 1945, the day of Japan’s surrender. Nevertheless, they are sweetly and sensitively written, retaining the innocence of the child, and highlight aspects of war that are often overlooked.

Whale cover

Would you tell us a little bit about your own background, how you came to learn Japanese, and what got you interested in children’s literature translation, in particular? Is there any genre of books that you particularly enjoy working on?

My background is somewhat unconventional, to say the least. I became interested in Japanese literature while working as a literary agent in Barcelona, and translating from Spanish and Catalan. One of our clients was the Japan Foreign Rights Centre, and I read up all the books they sent us in English in order to sell them to Spanish and Catalan publishers. At the same time, a Japanese friend gave me some Murakami Haruki books, and I began seeking out whatever Japanese literature I could find in English (which at the time involved scouring bookshops wherever I went), while also reading the weekly Dragon Ball mangas in Spanish, and watching anime such as Dragon Ball, Yawara, etc on Catalan TV. Completely swept away by the different vision they afforded and also intrigued at the challenge of learning a very different language, I decided to drop everything and enrolled on a BA Japanese course at SOAS (London University) with the long-term goal of translating Japanese literature into English. I became interested in children’s literature as a child, devouring whatever books I could get my hands on, and that interest never left me. I am also keenly interested in adult literature, and now translate fiction for both adults and children. I have a very eclectic taste, from literary fiction to mysteries to sci-fi and fantasy—and everything in between. My only criteria for enjoying a book (as reader or translator) are that it engages me mentally and emotionally, fires my imagination, and leaves me a little bit changed from before I read it.

How did you come to translate The Whale That Fell In Love With a Submarine?

Thanks to existing translations in French and German, the editors at Pushkin Press had already read it and acquired the rights. I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time, since Pushkin had just released Ryu Murakami’s From the Fatherland, With Love, which I co-translated. They had already approached me about Tomiko Inui’s The Secret of the Blue Glass, and had actually offered Nosaka’s book to my good friend and co-translator Ralph McCarthy, who instead recommended me. I fell in love with Whale instantly, as I’m sure he knew I would.

Is there any story in Whale that you particularly love?

To be honest, I love all the stories. What struck me very strongly in Nosaka’s voice was his deadpan sense of irony, almost sarcastic in places. He brilliantly captures the raw experience of war, while at the same time remaining tender—a combination I find devastating. The stories are all very powerful, and also opened my eyes to aspects of the war I had never known about. This edition only contains seven of the original twelve, but Pushkin had me translate all of them with the intention of including the remaining stories in future editions. I hear they are contemplating releasing an e-book of all the stories, which I very much hope happens. If I had to pick out just one that made a particularly deep and lasting impression on me, it would have to be “The Mother That Turned Into a Kite.” It still brings tears to my eyes when I read it.

I understand that you are from the UK. It seems that while stories about war in juvenile literature are less popular in the United States, many award-winning books in the UK (winners of the Carnegie Medal, Whitbread/Costa Book Award, and more) are stories about children affected by war. Do you believe that the readership in the UK may be more open to stories from Japan that deal with this topic, since the UK experienced intense bombings (such as the Blitz), like Japan? The two countries also share a history of sending children out into the countryside to protect them from bombings. Goodnight Mister Tom is one of my favorite novels.

Britain didn’t suffer anywhere near the extent of the devastation that Japan did, but they did experience the nine-month Blitz (in which mostly factories and docklands, rather than civilians, were targeted) as well as other aspects of war, including all the men being called up to fight, food shortages and rationing, evacuation of schoolchildren, etc. My parents are about the same age as Nosaka and I grew up hearing them talk about their experiences, and how we must never let it happen again. They inculcated in me a strong anti-war sentiment that remains with me today. My mother-in-law lost her house in the Tokyo air raid as a child, and I’m sure her traumatic experience has defined her life. While the US was very much involved in the war and experienced the draft and rationing, other than Pearl Harbor they did not experience bombing raids or fighting on their home territory, so I think the reality was rather different for them, and perhaps that is reflected in attitudes to stories about war for children.

Do you have any thoughts on why The Whale That Fell In Love With a Submarine has been translated now, so many years after the war? Have we become too complacent? Do we and our children need reminding of the horrors?

I’m not sure Pushkin Press had any particular intention in publishing this book now other than that it’s a very good book that deserves to be available in English. In terms of my own feelings about it, I worry that now the experience of the last world war is disappearing from living memory we seem to be headed that way again. Yes, perhaps we are too complacent. There are many wars going on around the world, many children and families are suffering, but these hardly affect those of us living in peacetime and we become inured to the images of suffering that we see on TV. I feel strongly that people should be aware of the reality of war and why we should do everything in our power to avoid it—whether it affects us directly or not. That is why stories like the ones in this collection are so important.

In many ways these stories are difficult to read because they are honest and there is just so much pain and loss—topics that children’s books tend to avoid. Was it difficult to translate these in a way that would appeal to a child, as well as a general readership?

I translated them the way they spoke to me in Japanese. I imagined them being read to children and tried to make the narrative voice appropriate—especially aiming for a kind of fairy-tale style—but I didn’t change anything in the original Japanese to try to make them more “child-friendly.” I’m not certain that Nosaka intended them specifically as children’s stories so much as stories viewed through the eyes of children. He describes the brutal reality of war, but at the same time he imbues the stories with empathy and humanity, qualities that override all else. I think they are probably more appropriate for young adults than younger children, and of course I think they appeal to adults too—but then, all good children’s books do.

Some of the stories have Japanese children’s songs in them. What was your experience translating these “familiar tunes” into a totally different language?

In this edition of Whale, only two of the stories have songs in them: one, in “The Parrot and the Boy,” is an established children’s song, “Seagull Sailors” by Toshihiko Takeuchi, and the other is an impromptu lullaby sung by the mother to her child in “The Mother That Turned into a Kite.” In the case of “Seagull Sailors,” I looked up the full lyrics and listened to a number of renditions of the song. I also tracked down an existing translation by a certain B. Ito that I thought was very good and better than anything I could produce myself, so I used the relevant lines from that (of course crediting the translator on the copyright page). There is another children’s song in a story not included in this edition that I approached in the same way—although I couldn’t find any existing translation that I liked, so I did my own. The lullaby in “The Mother That Turned into a Kite” is not meant to be a polished song—she makes up the words as she goes—so I simply tried to capture the feelings, anguish, and emotions she expresses through them.

This holds true for Nosaka’s Grave of the Fireflies (not included in this volume): Given the grim settings and outcomes in these stories, I was surprised by how uplifted I was by the characters and their stories. I imagine that this must be why Nosaka’s stories have endured over the decades. Do you have any thoughts on this?

I think what is so important about Nosaka’s writing is that in amongst all the destruction and suffering, he can find love, courage and hope. The characters in his stories are children and animals, innocents who cannot understand, or adults swept up in the tide of history by events beyond their control—but all human, and all tragic. All are portrayed with an empathy that underlines our very humanity. There is no trace of sentimentality. The contrast between the violence and destruction and this tenderness is devastatingly poignant, heartbreaking and beautiful, and I think it is this that makes them ultimately uplifting.

I’ve wondered how readers outside of Japan might accept the way that these, and I guess many Japanese stories in general, don’t really end up with a “happily ever after” type of ending. What has been your experience in that regard?

This is one of the things that first had me so intrigued about Japanese literature. In the West we are so used to there being a satisfying ending that we forget that life often isn’t really like that, and stories don’t need to be like that either. I’ve come to feel that sometimes this “happy” ending stops us from seeking other elements that can make a story meaningful—as in life, the process is often more important than the ending. I do realize that many Western readers struggle with this unfamiliar way of writing, and I don’t have a simple answer to how we can reconcile this, but I do feel that English-language readers are becoming more open to different ways of seeing the world as translated literature gains popularity. In Nosaka’s case, I think the stories are so well constructed and beautifully written that most readers will just be swept away by them—at least I hope they will.

Thank you again for such a sensitive and well-written translation of Nosaka’s stories. I sincerely hope that Whale reaches the wide readership it deserves.

If my translation succeeds in drawing readers into these wonderful stories, I will be very happy.

Ginny Tapley Takemori will speak to SCBWI Japan in Tokyo on June 15, 2015.

Sako Ikegami can lay claim to various titles—clinical pharmacist, medical translator/writer, children’s book reader—but best enjoys working with young adult books. She aspires to bridge her two cultures, US and Japanese, by translating children’s literature. Her translations include Ryusuke Saito’s stories The Tree of Courage and Hachiro, which appears in Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories and is introduced here.