Posts Tagged ‘Translation Day 2012’

A Conversation with Wendy Uchimura

By Tony Gonzalez, Atsugi, Kanagawa

Tony Gonzalez is a cofounder of Bento Books, a publishing company that focuses on contemporary Japanese fiction. He interviewed Wendy Uchimura about her recent translation of The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom by Manabu Makime, published through Shueisha English Edition. Wendy lives in Yokohama.

The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom

Tony Gonzalez: Many literary translators have a separate but related day job. Is that the case with you? How did you get your break into novel translation?

Wendy Uchimura: I do a variety of translation work, both in-house and freelance, as well as proofreading and editing. There are several fields I work in and I find it helps continually hone my skills. I’ve been interested in literary translation since I did my MA in Advanced Japanese through the University of Sheffield, which made me think it would be an interesting challenge to translate a book. The opportunity to do that came up after attending a Translation Day event in Yokohama in 2012 that was run by SCBWI. Yoshio Kobayashi from Shueisha Creative was there and put a call out for people to write book synopses for possible translation. That became the Shueisha English Edition project, which has released a number of works, including my translation of Manabu Makime’s The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom!

If The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom was your first novel translation, how did you find the experience? If not, how was working on this novel compared to others you’ve done?

This was my first novel translation. I’ve worked on large documents before, so I knew there would be a lot of graft work involved in creating the draft and getting the right context and style, all in addition to the actual creative process of translation. I found it was like running a marathon, as there is a certain pace you have to keep and you are your own timekeeper. There was a whole range of emotions I went through too that I didn’t expect. Some days I would really enjoy translating, and then other days I would agonize for hours over word choices and how to describe scenes so that readers would be able to follow what was going on. After the book was released, I did mention to other more seasoned literary translators how I’d felt during the translation process and they confirmed that it can be a real rollercoaster ride (in an overall good sense, of course!)

From the SCBWI Japan Translation Group’s interview with Yoshio Kobayashi, I understand that Shueisha English Edition is using a low advance/high royalties payment scheme. I’m curious as to your thoughts on that, and whether it’s a model that you think is good, bad, or neutral for literary translation?

I think because I have my ‘day job’ I personally don’t mind this type of scheme. I’m not fully dependent on receiving money, so if the royalties come in, that’s great, but I’m also just happy that a great title has come out in English for more people to read. In general, with Shueisha English Edition they seem to be quite careful in selecting books that are going to be of interest to English readers, so that should theoretically balance out for everyone. I know that if there were higher advances probably more books would be translated, however that would then have to be balanced out by putting a higher price on the book, so there would be fewer readers. When I think about it that way, I think this scheme leans more towards being a good thing for literary translation. More readers means that hopefully more translated novels will appear.

I see that The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom tries to stay very close to the source material, with extensive footnotes to explain aspects of Japanese culture and history that might be confusing to Western readers. How did you and the editors arrive at that decision?

The author Manabu Makime uses a lot of cultural and historical references in his work, so something integral would have been lost if that information was cut out. There’s something fascinating about Japanese castles, Japanese school life, and everything in-between, so I hope that readers can feel more part of Ryosuke’s world through the explanations. If it encourages people to find out more about some of the aspects introduced in this book, that’s even better! I thought I knew a lot about Japan, having lived here for nearly 17 years, but through this work I learnt new things too.

One particular editorial decision we had to make was about the title. There was actually already an English title for this book written on the Japanese edition: The Great Shurarabon. But even in Japanese shurarabon has no meaning. I suggested the word boom instead of bon as there are a lot of loud noises in this book, and the very talented editor Amelia Beamer was the one who suggested breaking up the words to give it some pizazz. And so it became The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom!

YA is currently considered one of the hottest genres in fiction publishing in the West, but books translated from Japanese generally have relatively limited mass-market appeal. Do you have any perspectives as to how we might work toward breaking out of the otaku niche that Japanese YA fiction seems to often be shunted into?

This may be a simplified view I hold, but it seems as if Japanese literature is split into either highbrow classic and contemporary literature or manga. Unfortunately, that means that Japanese YA fiction gets labeled more as something otaku would be interested in. It would be nice to see more translated Japanese works from various genres appearing in the West, as writers here seem to be able to portray things and approach subjects through writing that make you stop and think. It’s like looking at something from the other side of a fence and seeing, say, an everyday occurrence in a new, exciting light. The marketing of such works is probably going to be key to getting more Japanese YA fiction out there in the mainstream.

Do you have any valuable experiences from translating The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom that you would like to share? Was there anything you would have done differently? Did you face any unexpected challenges? Any directions you would like to head in the future?

From a translator’s perspective, the most important thing I learnt was not to stick to one style of translating. When I first approached this work and tried doing it in my usual style of working straight from the text into English, something just wasn’t clicking. It wasn’t until I separated myself from the source text by creating a rough first draft in-between the source text and what would have been my original first draft that I could see the story as it would be in English. The difficulty I had here was that it takes courage to break away and try a new translation style, especially when you’re working against a deadline. But once I switched over, it felt so much better—the sentences flowed, I was more creative. I wished I’d done it sooner. I guess this is a big difference between business translation and literary translation.

As I mentioned above, too, pacing yourself is essential. To a certain extent, you have to be strict on yourself and stay focused by setting sub-deadlines for each chapter and within that, the number of pages you need to get done every day.

I’d definitely like to translate more books and, while I hadn’t considered it up until now, YA fiction is an interesting area for me. I hope I get to translate more works like The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom, which I think works well as both a YA novel and an urban fantasy.

Advertisements

Carp Tales Offers Articles on Translation

Posted by Misa Dikengil Lindberg, Vergennes, Vermont

Click to enlarge

This spring, I became the editor of Carp Tales, the SCBWI Tokyo chapter newsletter. Published bi-annually, Carp Tales features book reviews, interviews, SCBWI Tokyo member news, and articles related to writing, illustrating, or translating for children. The Summer 2012 issue features three members’ perspectives on the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore–including Avery Fischer Udagawa’s wrap-up of her session Translation of Children’s Literature: Pathways to Success. Avery also contributed a wrap-up of SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day 2012, held in June. A feature piece by Lynne E. Riggs, “Japanese Children’s Literature: Background for Translators” sparks questions about the history of Japanese children’s literature, and will surely be of interest to fellow translators reading this blog. Download the Summer 2012 issue of Carp Tales in PDF here.

One Passage, Five Translations – Sachiko Kashiwaba

By Avery Fischer Udagawa, Bangkok

At SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day on June 16, 2012, Alexander O. Smith presented a workshop on translating excerpts from teen-appropriate novels in contrasting genres. One excerpt was from the novel Tsuzuki no toshokan (The “What’s-Next” Library) by Sachiko Kashiwaba, a work that began as an online novel and won a prestigious Shogakukan Children’s Book Award in 2010.

Kashiwaba is a prolific author of works set in contemporary Japan that weave in fantasy and folklore. Her novel Kiri no muko no fushigi na machi (The Marvelous Village Veiled in Mist) influenced Hayao Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away. 

In Tsuzuki no toshokan, Kashiwaba explores what might happen if the characters from children’s books sought to learn “what happened next” to readers who loved them, just as readers of books seek to learn what happens to their favorite characters in stories. The main character of the novel is a librarian named Momo who, in the excerpt discussed by Smith, has moved back to her childhood home and is reconnecting with a relative.

For this blog post, Smith shared an excerpt from Tsuzuki no toshokan along with translations of four participants in the workshop, followed by his own. He writes:

“Here’s a section from the wonderfully nuanced Kashiwaba piece we translated for the workshop on Saturday. The original Japanese comes first, followed by translations submitted anonymously by translators in attendance, followed by my own take on the section. It’s a great example of how many valid ways there are to translate any given line, especially when dialogue comes into play. See how different each translator’s approach was to the mention of Momo’s father at the top of the section, and how they dealt with the potentially gnarly second ‘mention of her father’ at the end. Also, here you will find five different translations, with four entirely different ways to translate Aunt Anzu’s admonition for Momo to ‘live better.'”

Enjoy! We welcome comments on these renderings of Kashiwaba’s text.

杏おばさんのほうが、
「義正に似て、不器用そうな子だね。」
と、桃さんのお父さんの名前を口にした。
「義正といっしょで、どうせ砂をつかむみたいに、手の中からみんなこぼれてしまったんだろう。どうして、上手に生きられないかねぇ。」
と、ため息をつく。
桃さんは、お父さんまでひきあいにだされて、くちびるをかんだ。

[Source: Tsuzuki no toshokan online version, part 1, pp. 7-8]

Translator A: Aunt Anzu spoke first, mentioning Momo’s father by name. “You seem to have Yoshimasa’s knack for making a hash of things. I suppose you’ve let it all spill through your hands like so much sand, same as he did. I don’t understand,” she sighed, “why you can’t live a little smarter.”
Momo bit her lip, annoyed at having her father brought into this.

Translator B: Her Aunt spoke,
“You look awkward, just like Yoshimasa,” bringing up the name of Momo’s father.
“Yoshimasa and me, we wanted to grab sand but it all spilt out from our hands. How come we can’t have a good life?” she sighed.
Momo bit her lip at having the subject of Dad dragged into the conversation.

Translator C: Aunt Anzu was the first to speak Momo’s father’s name. “You look like Yoshimasa. Clumsy.” She sighed. “You’re just like him. Everything spills out of your hands like sand. Can’t you do anything right?”
Momo bit her lip at the mention of her father.

Translator D: “You’re a bungler just like Yoshimasa, aren’t you?” Aunt Anzu said, mentioning Momo’s father. “You let everything slip through your fingers, just like sand. Why can’t you live like you ought to?”
Momo bit her lip at being compared with her father.

Alexander O. Smith: It was Auntie Anzu who mentioned Momo’s father first. “You’re an unfortunate child, just like Yoshimasa was. Always trying to grab on to everything, ‘til it slips through your fingers like sand. Really,” she sighed. “Can’t you do anything right?”
     She didn’t need to bring him into this, Momo thought, biting her lip.

A Rainy Saturday to Remember

SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day 2012 brought translators from all parts of Japan (and Thailand!) together for presentations, discussions, a workshop, and lively conversation on a drizzly day in Yokohama.

Translators at SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day 2012

Featured speaker Alexander O. Smith emboldened participants to push beyond word-for-word renderings to recast works in English, using fascinating examples from game translation. Author and editor Holly Thompson probed ways to make Japan-born translations marketable in the U.S. YA market, and an eight-member panel discussed the making of Tomo: Friendship Through FictionAn Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. After a translation workshop led by Alex, Avery Fischer Udagawa wrapped up the day by leading a discussion on personal websites, networking, time-share editing, and our potential within the SCBWI organization.

Many of the participants were veteran translators, so this was an excellent opportunity to meet and catch up  and, more importantly, share ideas and get tuned in to new possibilities.

Watch for a write-up of this event in the summer 2012 issue of Carp Tales, the SCBWI Tokyo newsletter. Thanks to all who made Translation Day 2012 a success!

Announcing SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day 2012!

The SCBWI Tokyo Translation Group announces SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day 2012: Bringing Japanese Teen Literature to the World! We hope everyone interested in J-E translation for children, teens in particular, will join us on June 16 in Yokohama. Full details below.

 SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day 2012: Bringing Japanese Teen Literature to the World

A day of presentations, critiques, and conversation for published and pre-published translators of Japanese children’s literature into English, with a focus on young adult (YA) literature.

Time: Saturday, June 16, 2012, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Place: Yokohama International School, 2F Pauli Bldg

Fee: Advance Registration 3,000 yen SWET and SCBWI members; 4,000 yen non-members. At the Door 4,000 yen SWET and SCBWI members; 5,000 yen non-members.

Details: For full details and presenter bios, see www.scbwi.jp and below this intro.

This full-day event includes:

  • “Of Video Games, Novels, and Translating for Teens,” with Alexander O. Smith, translator
  • “Thoughts for Translators after Editing TOMO: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories,” with Holly Thompson, author
  • “Translating for TOMO” with Holly Thompson plus Juliet Winters Carpenter, Sako Ikegami, Deborah Iwabuchi, Hart Larrabee, Lynne E. Riggs, Alexander O. Smith, and Avery Fischer Udagawa, translators
  • “Practical Ways to Explore the Children’s and YA Book Market” with Avery Fischer Udagawa, translator
  • “SCBWI Tokyo Translation Group and Networking Opportunities” with Sako Ikegami, translator

Plus a workshop led by Alexander O. Smith:

  • “Translating Japanese Teen Literature in Contrasting Genres”

Advance registrations and translations of short texts for the workshop must be received by Saturday, May 19, 2012. To register and request workshop texts, send an email to contact (at) scbwi.jp

This event will be in English.

* * * * * * * * * * *

SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day 2012 Schedule 

8:30   Registration

8:50 Opening Remarks

9:00-10:00 Translator Alexander O. Smith: Of Video Games, Novels, and Translating for Teens

As a translator of novels, video games, and two novels about video games—Brave Story and ICO by Miyuki Miyabe, the former a winner of the 2008 Mildred L. Batchelder Award—Alexander O. Smith discusses translating for today’s teens. His presentation will include an eye-opening look at the nuts and bolts of entertainment translation, both for the screen and for the printed page; advice for translators just starting out; and an open discussion about what constitutes a “good” translation. Bring your ideas and questions!

10:15-10:45 Author Holly Thompson: Thoughts for Translators after Editing Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories

The YA anthology Tomo was released in March 2012 in honor of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami victims and survivors. The book’s 36 Japan-related stories include 10 translations from Japanese. Tomo editor and YA author Holly Thompson reflects on editing translations for Tomo and probes what can make Japanese fiction marketable in English-language YA markets.

11:00-12:00 Roundtable: Translating for Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories

Holly Thompson joins Tomo translators Juliet Winters Carpenter, Sako Ikegami, Deborah Iwabuchi, Hart Larrabee, Lynne E. Riggs, Alexander O. Smith, and Avery Fischer Udagawa to discuss the process of acquiring, translating, and editing translations for the book. Panelists will discuss how stories or authors were chosen, how translators got involved, and how stakeholders collaborated to revise drafts and launch Tomo.

12:00-1:15 Lunch Picnic—Bring a lunch and “talk shop” with other translators in the event room or nearby Minato-no-Mieru Oka Koen. Enjoy self-introductions and discussion of current projects in a casual setting.

1:30-3:00 Workshop with Alexander O. Smith: Translating Japanese Teen Literature in Contrasting Genres

Alexander O. Smith comments on participants’ translations of contrasting excerpts from Japanese fiction for teenage readers and up. The discussion will highlight ways to translate faithfully and consider the YA market.

Translation Day participants must submit their translations of selected text excerpts for this workshop by May 19. To request the texts and register for Translation Day, send an e-mail to contact (at) scbwi.jp

3:15-3:45 Translator Avery Fischer Udagawa: Practical Ways to Explore the Children’s and YA Book Market

Like writers and illustrators, translators can explore the children’s and teen book market through reading, professional networking, school visits, and children’s publishing events. Avery Fischer Udagawa offers ideas. 

4:00-4:15 Translator Sako Ikegami: SCBWI Tokyo Translation Group and Networking Opportunities

The SCBWI Tokyo Translation Group offers an email list, group blog, and industry “connectivity” to all JE translators for children. Sako Ikegami outlines recent projects and opens a discussion of future directions.

4:15-5:00 Discussion/Q & A and Closing Comments

* * * * * * * * * * *

SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day 2012 Presenters and Panelists

Juliet Winters Carpenter, a Midwesterner by birth, is a longtime resident of Japan. Her many translations include mysteries, romance novels, haiku and tanka poetry, historical fiction, and works on Buddhist philosophy. Volume one of Clouds Above the Hill: A Historical Novel of the Russo-Japanese War, her joint translation of Ryotaro Shiba’s Saka no ue no kumo, is forthcoming from Routledge in December 2012. She lives in Kyoto, where she is a professor at Doshisha Women’s College, and on Whidbey Island, Washington. She translated “Fleecy Clouds” by Arie Nashiya for Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. www.swet.jp/index.php/people/juliet-winters-carpenter

 Sako Ikegami of Kobe 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 in both. Her translations include Ryusuke Saito’s The Tree of Courage and Angela Johnson’s First Part Last. She translated a story by Saito for Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. http://www.sakotrans.com

Deborah Iwabuchi made her first trip to Japan at age 17 and took up permanent residence soon after college. She has translated, among other works, novels by popular Japanese authors, including The Devil’s Whisper and The Sleeping Dragon by Miyuki Miyabe. Originally from California, she lives in the city of Maebashi with her family and runs her own company, Minamimuki Translations. She has co-authored bestselling books on writing and reading English for the Japanese market. She translated the story “The Law of Gravity” by Yuko Katakawa for Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. http://minamimuki.com/en

Hart Larrabee was born in New York State, majored in Japanese at Carleton College in Minnesota, and earned postgraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and University of Hawaii. A full-time freelance translator, he currently lives with his family in Nagano Prefecture. He translated the story “Anton and Kiyohime” by Fumio Takano for Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories.

Lynne E. Riggs is a professional translator based in Tokyo. She is an active member of the Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators and teaches Japanese-to-English translation at International Christian University. Her fiction translations include Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono and School of Freedom by Shishi Bunroku. She translated “Love Letter” by Megumi Fujino for Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. http://www.cichonyaku.com

Alexander O. Smith has been translating video games and novels from Japanese to English since graduating from Harvard University with an MA in Classical Japanese Literature in 1998. He is the founder of Kajiya Productions Inc., co-founder of Bento Books Inc., and based in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and Fukuoka. His translation of YA fantasy novel Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe earned the prestigious Mildred L. Batchelder Award for translated children’s literature in 2008. At the time, only two books from Japan had earned the award in its 40-year history. Smith has translated more than twenty other novels, including Harmony by Project Itoh, recipient of the Phillip K. Dick Award special citation in 2010 for science fiction, and The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, a nominee for Best Novel in the 2012 Edgar Awards for mystery—only the second book from Japan to be so distinguished. Smith has also localized numerous video games including Final Fantasy XII, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and most recently, Tactics Ogre: PSP. He is currently working as lead writer on an as-yet unannounced game project. Smith translated a parable in verse by Yuichi Kimura for Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. http://www.kajiyaproductions.com

Holly Thompson earned an MA from the NYU Creative Writing Program and is the author of several works that take place in Japan: the novel Ash, the picture book The Wakame Gatherers, and the verse novel Orchards, which received the 2012 APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature. She edited Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. A longtime resident of Japan, she teaches creative and academic writing at Yokohama City University and is regional advisor of the Tokyo chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). http://www.hatbooks.com

Avery Fischer Udagawa grew up in Kansas and now parents, writes, and translates in her bicultural (Japanese-American) family living near Bangkok. She holds a BA in English and Asian Studies from St. Olaf College and an MA in Advanced Japanese Studies from The University of Sheffield. Her translations from Japanese include the middle grade novel J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965 by Shogo Oketani and a story by Sachiko Kashiwaba in Tomo: Friendship through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. She contributes the column Four Worlds to the online magazine Literary Mama. http://www.averyfischerudagawa.com

www.scbwi.jp