Posts Tagged ‘Takami Nieda’

One Passage, Seven Translations—Natsuki Koyata

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

On November 19, Day 2 of SCBWI Japan Translation Days 2022, Takami Nieda led participants in a translation workshop using a passage from 望むのは by Natsuki Koyata. This is a YA-appropriate novel that Nieda is translating as The Brief Colorful Year of Being Fifteen; her engaging synopsis and several pages of context for the workshop passage appear here.

Six translators submitted translations of the passage, which were then blinded and discussed in a session open to all participants. Below are the original passage by Koyata, the six submitted translations, and a sample translation by Takami Nieda. The two characters speaking are the teens Koharu (who speaks first) and Ayumu; Ayumu is a ballet dancer.

Original Passage

「それが何? イメージと違ってがっかりって言いたいの?」口をついて出たその言葉は、しかし、その瞬間に小春の胸を貫いた。歩くんが都合のいい弱者でなかったことがどんなに自分を失望させたか、その失望がどんなに醜く、恥ずべきものだったか、小春はその痛みで初めて奥まで理解した。「あんたのイメージなんかどうだっていい」とそれでもなぜだか、自分自身を打ちのめしたくて言葉を継いだ。「これが現実のわたしだもん。あんたのイメージなんか、あんたのイメージする小春なんかぶっ殺してやる」

「殺せないよ。ぼくのイメージは本物だもん」たじろぎもせず、歩くんは返した。「ぼくのイメージはいつだって本物。いつだって現実だよ。脚はどの軌道を通るか、指先はどの高さまで達するか、イメージするからきれいに飛べる。イメージがすべてだ」そこで不意に、小春はぐらりと足元が揺らぐのを感じたが、「ぼくは白鳥だ。ぼくは王子だ」という屈強な宣言が、反対側から跳ね上げて小春を立たせた。「誰が気に入らなくたって、ぼくはイメージし続ける。そうして現実を作り続ける。つまらない幻想に、もうこれ以上振り回されたくないから」 

[Source: Nozomu no wa by Natsuki Koyata (Shinchosha, 2017)]

Translation A

“So, what? Disappointed I wasn’t like you thought?” Koharu spat.

Yet even as the words flew from her mouth, pain lanced across her chest. The hideous disappointment of Ayumu’s revelation, the sharp sting of shame, was like a physical blow.

“Who cares about what you think of me anyway,” she continued, inexplicably, somehow bent on making the situation worse. “This is who I really am. So whoever this imaginary version of Koharu is in your head, it’s time for her to die—bury her. She doesn’t exist.”

“You can’t just erase her,” Ayumu replied, unruffled. “What do you mean ‘not real’? My perception of you is a real thing—imagination is the beginning of reality. I can leap when I dance because I first imagine the arc of my legs, how my arms will extend. Perception is everything.” He paused.

“I become a regal swan. A prince.”

Koharu, who had begun to sag under the weight of his words, startled to attention at this sudden change of direction.

“If someone doesn’t like me,” he continued, “I continue with my image of myself anyway. This is how you create reality. I refuse to waste my time any more being boxed in by what is ‘normal.’”

Translation B

“So what are you getting at? Are you saying that you’re disappointed because I’m not who you thought I was?”

The words flew out of her mouth, but at the same time, they also pierced her heart. She had been disappointed when she realized that Ayumu wasn’t just some wishy-washy wimp, and this pain made her realize for the first time deep inside just how disgusting and disgraceful that disappointment was.

“I don’t care what your image of me is.”

But for some reason, she wanted to find words to continue bashing herself.

“This is the real me. Whatever image you have, I’ll destroy it – I’ll kill your Koharu.”

“You can’t. My images are real.”

Ayumu countered without hesitation.

“My images have always been real. The arc my feet will draw. The height my toes will reach. I can execute a jump well because I envision it. My images are everything.”

A sudden weakness in the legs caught Koharu off guard, but the defiant cries of “I am a swan. I am a prince.” bouncing up from the other side helped her stay on her feet.

“I’ll keep creating my images even if people don’t like it. This is how I create my reality. I’m tired of going around chasing some empty fantasy.”

Translation C

“What’s that supposed to mean? Are you saying you’re disappointed that I don’t live up to your image of me?” The words that came rushing out of Koharu’s mouth somehow stabbed her chest in the same moment. The pain caused her to perceive fully for the first time how ugly and shameful her own dismay had been, over Ayumu not being some weakling who could make her own life easier. “What do I care about your image of me?” she added, feeling that she wanted to clobber herself. “This is the real me,” she said. “Your image is nothing. I’ll murder the Koharu in your image!”

“You can’t murder her. My images are real,” Ayumu replied, not even flinching. “My images are always real. They become reality. I can jump because I visualize the arc my legs will trace, the height my fingertips will reach. The mental image is everything.

“I am a swan. I am a prince!”

Koharu felt her legs tremble as she listened to him, but his firm declaration from across the way brought her to her feet.

“No matter who hates it, I am going to keep visualizing,” he told her. “I am going to keep creating reality. I am sick of being tossed around by silly fantasies.”

Translation D

“What’s that all supposed to mean? I’m not like you imagined and now you’re disappointed?” Those were the words that spilled out, and the instant Koharu said them they pierced her soul. She suddenly understood how letdown she was that Ayumu wasn’t some weakling she could walk all over. On top of that she was crushed to realize how malicious that disappointment was—how shameful. And the pain of that shame took the revelation even deeper. “Well, I couldn’t care less how you think of me.” Now she felt like she was lashing out at herself, not Ayumu. “This is me. It’s who I am. I’ll murder that Koharu you think you know. The one in your head.”

“You can’t kill her. My images are the reality,” Ayumu came back without flinching. “Every image I’ve ever had is reality. I know which direction your legs will take you and how high your fingers can reach. You can fly because I’ve imagined it. My images of you are everything.” At that moment Koharu felt her knees buckle, until she heard Ayumu declare, “I’m a swan. I’m a prince!” and the words flew over from him to stand her back up. “It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, I won’t stop creating images, or reality. I’m not going to let myself get sucked in to any more inane illusions.”

Translation E

“So what? Do you want to say that you are disappointed that the picture you had of me is wrong?” These words were pouring out of Koharu’s mouth but, at the same time, they penetrated her heart. For the first time, deep down, Koharu understood how disappointed it had made her that Ayumu is not a pitiful and weak person; how ugly and embarrassing this disappointment is, and the hurt. “I don’t care what picture you have of me,” and still, for some reason, carried on beating herself up. “Because this is the real me. I will kill your picture, the picture you have of me.”

“You can’t kill it. My picture is the real thing,” Ayumu argued without flinching. “My picture is always the real thing. Always reality you know. What trajectory my feet will take; what height my fingertips will reach; because I picture it, I will fly beautifully. Visualisation is everything.” At that point, Koharu suddenly felt her confidence waver. Ayumu made a strong statement, “I am a swan. I am a prince”, which made things clear to Koharu. “Even if someone doesn’t like it, I continue with the visualisation. That way I can create my own reality. Because I don’t want to be affected by a meaningless illusion anymore,” said Ayumu.

Translation F

“And so what? You’re disappointed ’cause I’m not the kinda girl you thought I was, is that it?”

The words flew out of her mouth before she knew it, but at the same time, it sliced through her own heart. As soon as it stung her, Koharu realized deep down just how much she’d been disappointed that Ayumu wasn’t the convenient underdog that she’d imagined him to be, and just how ugly that disappointment was, something to be ashamed of.

“I don’t care what you think of me,” she pressed on, somehow feeling the urge to keep beating herself up. “This is the real me. Who cares how you see me? That Koharu in your head? I’ll just kill her off.”

“You can’t kill her. How I see you is real,” Ayumu answered, without batting an eyelash. “How I see things is always real. It’s always reality. It’s because I visualize it in my head—the arc that my legs will trace, how high my fingertips will reach—it’s because I see all that, that I can do a clean leap.” Koharu’s legs suddenly felt wobbly, but what Ayumu said next, his iron declaration, made her shoot up straight.

“I’m a swan. I’m a prince.”

He went on, “No matter what anyone says, I’ll keep envisioning things. And that’s how I’ll create the reality. I’m tired of getting pushed around by useless illusions.”

Sample Translation by Takami Nieda

“What? You’re disappointed I wasn’t who you imagined, is that it?” she shot back.

As the words tumbled out of her mouth, something pricked her heart. It was the shameful sting of having assumed Ayumu was a pushover who needed protecting.

“Who cares what you think anyway?” She continued in spite of herself, “This is who I am, Ayumu. So that precious illusion of Koharu you have in your head has to die.”

“You can’t kill her. My perception is real,” he said, without batting an eye. “When I’m dancing, I just have to imagine the arc of my legs, the shape of my arms all the way down to my fingertips—that’s how I can land a perfect jump. It all starts with perception.”

Raising his arms, he continued, “I can be a swan. I can be a prince!”

Just as her legs wobbled beneath her, Koharu felt herself being propped up by his confident declaration.

“I don’t care what anyone thinks about me,” he said. “I’m going to keep on imagining and making my own reality. I’m tired of getting yanked around by people’s assumptions.”

Announcing SCBWI Japan Translation Days 2022

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

SCBWI Japan Translation Days 2022

Two days of online presentations, workshopping, and conversation for published and pre-published translators of Japanese children’s and young adult literature into English.

Dates: Saturday, November 12, 2022, and Saturday, November 19, 2022

Time: Meeting Room Opens 8:30 a.m. Sessions 9:00 a.m. – 1 p.m. JST

Place: Remote via Zoom

Fee: 3,500 yen for current SCBWI members; 5,000 yen for nonmembers. One fee covers both days. 

Translations of text for workshop with Takami Nieda due by November 5, 2022. Fee payments due by November 9, 2022.

Registration: To reserve your place and receive event details, send an email to japan (at) scbwi.org.

Recordings will be available to registered participants until the end of November 2022.

This event will be in English and Japanese. All dates and times are Japan Standard Time (JST). 

Schedule

Kathleen Merz

DAY 1: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12

8:30 Meeting Room Opens

8:50 Opening Remarks

9:00-9:45 A Conversation with Editor Kathleen Merz

At Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, half (or more) of the titles published each year are translations. Editorial Director Kathleen Merz responds to questions in a live interview about what it takes to publish children’s books in English translation.

Jocelyne Allen

9:45-10:00 Break

10:00-10:15 Speed Share

Participants join a lightly structured “speed share” of their current projects.

10:15-11:00 Jocelyne Allen on Translating Colorful by Eto Mori

As the translator of Colorful by Eto Mori—a YA novel known in many languages and the basis of multiple films—Jocelyne Allen shares about the process and issues involved in bringing this iconic work to life in a US English-language edition.

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:45 Presentation and Discussion of Japan Foundation Grant Funding

Aya Tamura

The Japan Foundation’s Support Programs for Translation and Publishing, and its recent Lifelong Favorites initiative, promise to increase the visibility and viability of publishing Japanese children’s literature in English translation. Avery Fischer Udagawa introduces the role Japan Foundation funding played in the publication of her translation of Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba (11:15-11:30). Then, Aya Tamura of the Japan Foundation presents about its programs (11:30-12:15). Finally, participants in Translation Days have the opportunity to discuss how such support might connect to their projects (12:15-12:45).

12:45-1:00 Closing Remarks for Day 1

Marilyn Brigham

DAY 2: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19 

8:30 Meeting Room Opens

8:50 Opening Remarks

9:00-9:45 A Conversation with Editor Marilyn Brigham

Amazon Crossing Kids is an imprint focused on global literature for children. Marilyn Brigham, senior editor of Two Lions and Amazon Crossing Kids, responds to questions in a live interview about what it takes to publish children’s books in English translation.

9:45-10:00 Break

10:00-10:15 Submission Opportunities

Participants learn about submission opportunities for those who join in this event, from interested publishers.

Takami Nieda

10:15-11:00 Takami Nieda on Translating The Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart by Chesil

As translator of The Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart by Chesil, Takami Nieda describes facilitating the English-language debut of a third-generation Korean born in Japan, whose writing raises key questions about identity and justice.

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-12:45 Takami Nieda: Translation Workshop

Takami Nieda critiques participants’ translations of an excerpt from 『望むのは』, a title by Natsuki Koyata as yet unpublished in English.

Participants interested in receiving feedback during this workshop must submit their translations of the workshop text by November 5, 2022.

Names will be removed. Participants are not required to submit translations in order to join the workshop.

12:45-1:00 Closing Remarks for Day 2

Speakers

Jocelyne Allen (she/they) is a Japanese translator and interpreter, and has translated hundreds of short stories, novels, and manga, including the beloved Japanese classic Colorful by Eto Mori and the Eisner Award-winning Lovesickness by Junji Ito. As an interpreter, she has worked with Japan’s most celebrated authors and artists, including Sayaka Murata, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Hideo Furukawa, and Akane Torikai. @brainvsbook 

Marilyn Brigham (she/her) is senior editor of Two Lions and Amazon Crossing Kids, the two children’s book imprints at Amazon Publishing. Her noteworthy titles include the upcoming picture book Ruby & Lonely by bestselling author Patrice Karst and illustrated by Kayla Harren; the It’s Not a Fairy Tale series by popular author Josh Funk, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor; and What If Everybody Said That? by Ellen Javernick, illustrated by Colleen Madden, the sequel to the Amazon bestseller What If Everybody Did That?. Prior to joining Amazon Publishing in 2012, Marilyn was at Marshall Cavendish, where she began as an intern and worked her way up to editor. There she edited books for kids of all ages, including popular title Goodnight, Little Monster by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by Bonnie Leick. Marilyn is the author of the board book Swim!, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, and the educational title Dik-Dik (Even Weirder and Cuter Series). When not editing or writing, Marilyn can be found at the beach.

Kathleen Merz (she/her) is the Editorial Director at Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. She has worked on a number of award-winning titles, including books that have won the Caldecott Honor, the Batchelder Award for translation, the Sibert Medal, and other honors. She studied English and linguistics, and especially enjoys working on translated books and nonfiction picture books. She is always looking for original picture books, narrative nonfiction, and middle grade stories—particularly books that tackle contemporary social issues and celebrate diversity or multiculturalism, and stories that have well-crafted voice and strong characters. Kathleen lives in Michigan, and when she’s not at work editing she can usually be found outdoors biking or kayaking.

Takami Nieda (she/her) was born in New York City and has degrees in English from Stanford University and Georgetown University. She has translated and edited more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction from Japanese into English and has received numerous grants in support of her translations, including the PEN/Heim Translation Fund for the translation of Kazuki Kaneshiro’s GO, which went on to earn a Freeman Book Award for Young Adult/High School Literature from the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia. Her translations have also appeared in Words Without Borders, Asymptote, and PEN America. Formerly an assistant professor of translation at Sophia University in Tokyo, she currently teaches writing and literature at Seattle Central College in Washington State, US. @TNieda

Aya Tamura (she/her) joined the Japan Foundation in 2003. After working in the General Affairs Department and at the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris (Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris), she joined the Arts and Culture Department’s Planning and Coordination / Literary Arts Section in 2021. Support Programs for Translation and Publishing 

Avery Fischer Udagawa (she/her) serves as Translator Coordinator and Japan Translator Coordinator in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Her translations include the Mildred L. Batchelder Award-winning novel Temple Alley Summer by Sachiko Kashiwaba, illustrated by Miho Satake, published by Restless Books. @AveryUdagawa

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A Conversation with Translator Takami Nieda

By Susan E. Jones, Kobe

Translator Takami Nieda is back with a new YA translation! At SCBWI Japan in 2019, she described the translation and publication process of Kazuki Kaneshiro’s GO (Amazon Crossing, 2018, Freeman Book Award winner). Here, she talks about her latest YA translation: Chesil’s The Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart (Soho Teen, 2022).

The source text『ジニのパズル』(Jini no pazuru / Ginny’s Puzzle) was nominated for an Akutagawa Prize in 2016 and stood out to Takami as one ripe for translation. Her depiction of Ginny, a conflicted Zainichi teen, lays bare the struggle many multicultural people experience.

Seventeen-year-old Ginny Park is about to get expelled from high school—again. Stephanie, the picture book author who took Ginny into her Oregon home after she was kicked out of school in Hawaii, isn’t upset; she only wants to know why. But Ginny has always been in-between. She can’t bring herself to open up to anyone about her past, or about what prompted her to flee her native Japan. Then, Ginny finds a mysterious scrawl among Stephanie’s scraps of paper and storybook drawings that changes everything: The sky is about to fall. Where do you go?

Ginny sets off on the road in search of an answer, with only her journal as a confidante. In witty and brutally honest vignettes, and interspersed with old letters from her expatriated family in North Korea, Ginny recounts her adolescence growing up Zainichi, an ethnic Korean born in Japan, and the incident that forced her to leave years prior.

Inspired by her own childhood, author Chesil creates a portrait of a girl who has been fighting alone against barriers of prejudice, nationality, and injustice all her life—and one searching for a place to belong. (Publisher’s synopsis.)

Susan: Given your translation of Kazuki Kaneshiro’s GO, Chesil’s The Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart, and your forthcoming Travelers of a Hundred Years (by Lee Hoesung) and Yubi no Hone (by Hiroki Takahashi), we are definitely starting to see a theme in the works you gravitate toward translating. Are you becoming something of a spokesperson for ethnic Koreans in Japan? Have you been noticed or recognized in that community for your work? Have you been called upon to explain their position at any venue in the US?

Takami Nieda

Takami: No, I haven’t, which is a good thing, as there are any number of scholars and ethnic Koreans who can speak to these issues more knowledgeably than I can. I am careful to point out that Zainichi is a term that comes with some controversy, and some might resist that category, which often conflates diverse Korean populations who identify not as Zainichi but as Korean Japanese or Japanese. For this reason, it’s important that they have the agency to decide how they choose to be identified. In the case of Chesil, she identifies as a third-generation Korean born in Japan, and I’ve not seen her refer to herself as Zainichi.

Susan: How smooth was the editing process of this translation? I am particularly interested in the fact that this was a novel marketed to adults in Japan and YA in English regions. Did you or the editor change the writing style to make it more appropriate for a teen reader? Did you know as you translated that it would likely be marketed for teens?

Takami: Soho Teen picked up the translation, so I did know going in that the book would be marketed as YA, but I wouldn’t say that I changed the writing style—maybe in a couple of places here and there. The novel wasn’t necessarily written as a YA but the prose is very clean and economical. I just translated the original text, which is juiced with this righteous indignation and energy and quite lyrical in parts, as it was. I might have had a couple of words like “bad apple,” which the editor pointed out as not age appropriate (or archaic). There was also a reference to Robert DeNiro, which the editor felt needed a little help for a younger reader to understand. Those small changes I’m willing to make, but it was important to retain Chesil’s voice and writing style.

Susan: I want to ask you a bit more about your decision (or your joint decision with Chesil) about gendered pronouns. How did you/she end up deciding on them? For example, on p. 7, “the wearer” of the dirty shoes is referred to as “he” and I wonder if that was specified in the Japanese source text.

Takami: There were several places where I thought there was an opportunity to reinforce a recurring theme in the novel by specifying gender. I thought that gendering the star, which Ginny has a conversation with, as “she” might suggest a bit of a sisterhood between them. Also, gendering the sky as “she” might suggest something about whose fall was being “caught” in the end. I asked Chesil what she thought about it, and she agreed to the first, but opted to keep the pronoun of the sky non-specific, so readers could make their own conclusions about the ending.

(The gender of “the wearer” wasn’t specified in the source text, but I went with “he,” but really by default.)

Chesil

Susan: You mentioned that it was a positive experience to get feedback from Chesil as you translated. Would you prefer to do all of your translations in coordination with the author in this way? Was it a totally positive experience, or were there times when your own idea conflicted with hers but you felt obligated to meet her request?

Takami: This is the first time I was able to consult the author, so it was very exciting. I don’t think Chesil got as many questions from her editor as she’d gotten from me, and she was incredibly patient to answer every last one of them. We communicated entirely over email, but it felt to me that Chesil really understood the translation was going to be its own thing apart from the source text and she was quite keen to learn through our collaboration herself. It’s truly a gift to be able to work with a writer who understands that about translation, and I don’t know if that will ever happen again. I hope so!

Susan: What was the most challenging part of translating this book? I imagine I would have struggled with romanizing the Korean names and making it clear that Ginny is Jinhee. Did you need to do much explicitation to bridge cultural gaps?

Takami: I tried to figure out the romanization on my own, then consulted Chesil to make sure that I’d gotten the names right. We also were lucky to have a copy editor who was knowledgeable in the Korean language and culture, so they pointed out one or two issues with regard to names. Thank goodness for copy editors!

It’s interesting that in GO, Kazuki Kaneshiro purposefully wrote the opening of the book as a way to educate Japanese readers about how the Korean population came to Japan during WWII and the complexities of their citizenship status, knowing that Japanese readers wouldn’t know anything about it. On the other hand, Chesil gave almost no explanation, assuming perhaps that enough people would know about them or that readers would do the research themselves. So, if it’s not in the original text, I try not to add too much expository explanation because that can often get unwieldly and oftentimes takes away from the moment the writer is trying to capture.

Increasingly, I find myself resisting adding anything too much to bridge cultural gaps. In many ways English readers need to get used to the idea that not everything is going to be explained to them or center their experiences and expectations. The writer has allowed them a window into their world, which can be an immense act of courage and generosity, so readers ought to be willing do some work on their own to understand a culture or history they’re not familiar with.

Susan: Do you do anything in particular to absorb current teen lingo to incorporate in your translation?

Takami: As a community college teacher, I’m lucky to be around lots of young people every day, which helps me maintain an ear for lingo. But because a lot of slang tends to be regional or niche, and certainly short lived, the most current lingo isn’t always the best choice in translation. I usually try to go with lingo that’s had some staying power and has been around for a while.

Susan: Was it your idea to change the book title in translation or the publisher’s? Though long, I like it better than “Ginny’s Puzzle” for an English-speaking audience.

Takami: The first editor Amara Hoshijo suggested the title because of the character Ginny’s explanation of the phrase Sorairo wa kokoromoyou in the book. Amara had also mentioned that longish titles were a thing in YA literature and was concerned that the original title might suggest a story aimed at a younger audience. Chesil liked the suggestion, so we went with that.

Jacket for The Color of the Sky is the Shape of the Heart (Soho Teen)

Susan: How has reception of this translation been so far? The theme of self-discovery and search for a place to fit in seem to be a universal struggle for teens (though Ginny obviously faces some extreme challenges). I imagine that this book would appeal to readers totally unfamiliar with Japan or ethnic Koreans in Japan.

Takami: Overall, the reception has been fantastic. Just as you’ve pointed out, many readers have noted the universal themes of identity and belonging, and have had their eyes opened to the ethnic Korean population in Japan. The novel packs a punch in a short 150+ pages, so I hope it will be taught in middle schools and high schools. I’d love to read some teen reviews of the novel as well!

Susan: This is perhaps a really insignificant question, but did you have any control over the fonts used in the hard copy version of the book? I quite liked the font used for handwriting and the chapter titles. (I missed this in the e-book!)

Takami: The typesetting was decided by the editing team and I’m rather fond of that font choice, too. You get the sense that you’re really reading Ginny’s handwritten journal entries as she tries to make sense of her past. I did request the Courier font for the screenplay scene between characters Yunmi and Jaehwan, because that’s the standard font for screenplays.

 

Takami Nieda reads from her work at the Sant Jordi USA Festival of Books, Roses, and the Arts.

Susan E. Jones, Associate Professor at Kobe College and longtime translator and teacher of translation, will serve as SCBWI Japan Translator Coordinator beginning in January 2023.

 

2020 GLLI Translated YA Book Prize Goes to The Beast Player and Maresi Red Mantle

By Andrew Wong, Tokyo

The wait for this year’s Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI) Translated YA Book Prize is over!

As announced on April 2, GLLI have selected not one but two titles for the top prize, one of which is Nahoko Uehashi’s The Beast Player, translated from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano. This adds to Uehashi’s list of international accolades since Hirano’s translation of the first book in the Moribito series won global recognition in 2009. The Beast Player shares the prize with fellow fantasy title Maresi Red Mantle by Finland’s Maria Turtschaninoff, translated from the Finno-Swedish by A. A. Prime.

One other Japanese title, Kazuki Kaneshiro’s Go, translated by Takami Nieda, also made the 13-strong shortlist.

Lockdown? Another reason to stay home and wander around the worlds created in these books! Stay safe everyone.

How Takami Nieda Came to Translate GO

By Louise Heal Kawai, Tokyo

In June 2019, teacher and literary translator Takami Nieda gave a fascinating talk to SCBWI Japan on her translation of Kazuki Kaneshiro’s Go: A Coming-of-Age Novel. She has now followed this up with a wonderfully informative essay for TranNet.

This account of how she got started on her literary translation career is essential reading for those who wonder how to get into the field. I was moved by how she championed Go, a book she loved, and fought to get her translation funded and published; and also by how she manages to combine her career in translation with one in teaching. Her passion for both shines through. A highly recommended read.

Opening of Takami Nieda’s August 2019 essay for TranNet. Click to download full text in PDF.

Takami Nieda On Bringing GO into English

Takami Nieda (holding her translation of Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro) after speaking to SCBWI Japan on June 22.

By Andrew Wong, Tokyo

On June 22, 2019, translator Takami Nieda dropped by in person to share her seven-year journey of bringing Kazuki Kaneshiro’s young adult/adult novel Go to English-language readers. The evening began with the opening basketball sequence of an award-winning film based on Go. In this sequence, the term “zainichi” sets the tone for high-schooler Sugihara’s raw, roller-coaster story of love and life.

A third-generation Korean Japanese himself, Kaneshiro positioned Go to explain itself to its original intended readership, the Japanese. So there were few difficulties, Nieda noted, in providing background information—something a translator would often have to add. Nieda did point out some challenging terms she dealt with like oyaji, which she translated as “father” sometimes and as “old man” at other times; ofukuro, for which she chose “mother” over “mom”; and the rhythmical puzzle posed by a reworded version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”

The novel’s short time span means Sugihara, a high school student, stays safely within the YA category as defined in the Anglosphere, but the gritty, edgy, often violent original is not considered a YA work in Japan. Coupled with the fact that a title like Go isn’t exactly easy to spot in the digital abyss, we appreciated that, by adding a subtitle to the English-language edition, publisher Amazon Crossing may have helped more readers of YA to find the book. (The book now sells in English as Go: A Coming-of-Age Novel.)

Nieda shared some of Go’s reader figures, which demonstrate its broad appeal: readers above 25 are spread over several age categories. However, while digital downloads have been strong, the title has lacked presence in English-language bookstores. So Nieda went on to talk about other roads for Go to travel, including as a text for studying the relationship between Korea and Japan. (It has won a Freeman Award for Young Adult/High School Literature and also has clear uses in university classrooms.)

There were concerns over the weight of some violent sequences, but those were assuaged by the idea that some sequences could actually be perceived as physical manifestations of affection.

Very early on, Nieda quoted Chimamanda Adichie to remind us of the danger of a single story, and on closing she again drove home the need for stories from diverse perspectives. Certainly an inspiring message for creators of children’s works in SCBWI Japan!

An additional write-up of this event by writer Cam Sato appears at the SCBWI Japan main blog.

Takami Nieda in Tokyo on June 22, 2019

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators presents

Translator Takami Nieda on the YA-Adult Crossover Novel

Time: Saturday, June 22, 2019, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Place: Tokyo Women’s Plaza, Audio Visual Room B

5-53-67 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

(near the United Nations University; map)

Fee: SCBWI members 800 yen; nonmembers 1,200 yen

RSVP: To reserve a place, email japan (at) scbwi.org by Thursday, June 20

This event will be in English.

Takami Nieda’s translation of Go: A Coming-of-Age Novel by Kazuki Kaneshiro, has won acclaim in the US as adult fiction—and a Freeman Award for YA/High School Literature. What has made it strike a chord with readers in two traditionally distinct categories?

Nieda introduces a searing story of anti-Korean discrimination in Japan, which features two teens and is by turns romantic and violent, not unlike Romeo and Juliet, the source of its epigraph. Nieda discusses the translation issues she encountered, the experience of working with a crossover book, and her hopes for Go’s future.

Kazuki Kaneshiro graduated from Keio University. In 2000, he won the Naoki Prize for Go, which tackles issues of ethnicity and discrimination in Japanese society. The novel’s film adaptation went on to win every major award in Japan in 2002. Many of Kaneshiro’s works have been made into films or manga, and Kaneshiro has been adept at working synergistically across multiple formats and genres.

Takami Nieda was born in New York City and has degrees in English from Stanford University and Georgetown University. She has translated and edited more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction from Japanese into English and has received numerous grants in support of her translations, including the PEN/Heim Translation Fund for the translation of Kazuki Kaneshiro’s Go. Her translations have also appeared in Words Without BordersAsymptote, and PEN America. Nieda teaches writing and literature at Seattle Central College in Washington State.

japan.scbwi.org

Freeman Book Award for YA/High School Goes to GO

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

The novel Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro, translated by Takami Nieda, has won a Freeman Book Award in the Young Adult/High School category.

The Freeman Book Awards are sponsored by the USA’s National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA), the Committee on Teaching about Asia (CTA) of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), and Asia for Educators (AFE) at Columbia University. The awards garland children’s and YA titles “that contribute meaningfully to an understanding of East and Southeast Asia.”

Go is a coming-of-age story about a zainichi (resident) Korean teen boy, born in Japan, who falls in love with a Japanese girl. This seems a forbidden romance given Japan’s history of anti-zainichi discrimination.

The NCTA has a page about Go here, and Publishing Perspectives has an illuminating interview with Nieda here. Nieda spoke by recorded Skype at SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018.

Go read Go!

Takami Nieda appears on video at SCBWI Japan Translation Day in October 2018.

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.

 

 

#CantWait for SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018

Translation Day 2018 info with prior Days’ write-ups

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

If you follow Japan kidlit in English online, you may have seen me shout out SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018 in Yokohama on October 20—here, say, or here, here, or here. I #cantwait for this event! Here’s why:

  • This will be the fifth biennial SCBWI Japan Translation Day.
  • This will be the fifth time we have welcomed a master translator, of an author relevant to children’s or YA literature, to work with us on craft.
  • This year’s master translator will be Louise Heal Kawai, renderer of Ms. Ice Sandwich by rising literary star Mieko Kawakami. This novella is told in the voice of a fourth grade boy. Louise will tour us through it and workshop another passage from its source volume Akogare (Longing), specifically the story 苺ジャムから苺をひけば. Psst: This story unfolds when the boy from Ms. Ice Sandwich is in sixth grade, and is told in the voice of his female classmate from Ms. Ice Sandwich. It has yet to be published in English. Cool! Or should I say, icy!
  • What else? We will screen not one, but two, prerecorded Skype interviews with luminaries in our field. The first is with Adam Freudenheim, publisher and managing director at Pushkin Press, who has helped launch several landmark Japanese titles in English translation, from The Secret of the Blue Glass to The Beast Player to Ms. Ice Sandwich. Our second interview will be with Takami Nieda, translator of the novel Go by Kazuki Kaneshiro: a searing Romeo-and-Juliet story about a Korean-Japanese teen who falls in love with a Japanese teen. Nieda fell so in love with Go that she made a Twitter account to ask the author to let her translate it—and it worked (eventually)! COOL!
  • Just interviewing Adam and Takami spurred me to send out more work and plunge deeper into my translation and translation advocacy projects.
  • Once I edit my starstruck self out of the interviews a bit, I know they will have the power to inspire others at Translation Day too.
  • Speaking of inspiring, how icy is it that author Holly Thompson has gathered excerpts to share with us in a workshop on age categories in US book publishing? We will get to see if we can identify chapter books, middle grade novels, YA novels, and/or adult books by their innards—and discuss how we think Japanese books slot into the US categories (which also influence the UK and beyond) and vice versa. Is Ms. Ice Sandwich adult or middle grade? Is Go adult or YA? Need there be an or? Hmmmm . . .
  • Speaking of hmmmm, did you know that category differences affect English-language books traveling into Japanese too? JBBY President Yumiko Sakuma—herself the translator of 200 children’s books from English into Japanese, from Flat Stanley to Of Thee I Sing—will be on hand to share stories.
  • Speaking of stories (of stories), grant funding supported the translation of Go and the publication of Ms. Ice Sandwich . . . and pssst, a new grant from SCBWI may be ready to announce on the occasion of Translation Day. This grant has been years in the making. You can find it now if you search SCBWI.org assiduously, OR you can take a hint by removing the H from the name of this cool American dessert product or this ubiquitous Japanese beauty product. Warning: the news may make you dance, or even ice dance.
  • Speaking of dancing, we have a celebration this year, of Japan’s Eiko Kadono winning the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing (aka “little Nobel”)—a feat that required nomination by JBBY, and which surely benefited from the translation by Lynne E. Riggs of Kadono’s iconic Kiki’s Delivery Service. Anyone up for throwing confetti??
  • And speaking of confetti, you will definitely want to throw some when you hear the list—our longest yet—of English-language children’s book editors who are open to receiving submissions from SCBWI Japan Translation Group. This openness does not grow on trees, especially if (like most translators) you are unagented.

So dust off your Rolodex, shred some rough drafts for confetti, buy a copy of Ms. Ice Sandwich to have Louise sign, and bring your dancing shoes . . . because this Translation Day will be chill. Note: You do not need to have submitted a workshop translation to join us for the day. Next note: If you are in SWET, you can enter at SCBWI member price. Next next note: Even the nonmember price is a great deal, thanks to a generous regional grant (grant again!) from SCBWI.

#CantWait to see you at SCBWI Japan Translation Day 2018!