Our new website, and the KHP Translation Prize
June is finally here, and with it came a whole slew of activity at KHP. Like this blog, which I intend to issue regularly. And like the Kurodahan Press Translation Prize, which we have been planning for some time.
Like this blog, which I intend to issue regularly. And like the Kurodahan Press Translation Prize, which we have been planning for some time.
Why a prize from such a small publisher?
Publishing is made up of a variety of elements, which can basically be grouped into content (the words, cover art, design, etc.), goods (printing, warehousing, distributing, selling) and marketing (advertising and promoting books so people will buy them). I've always been most interested in content, and the most important part of content is people. The authors are of course of major interest, but Japanese authors will keep on writing what they like without my input. Finding new translators, though, giving them interesting stuff to translate, and working with them to make a gem of Japanese literature available in English: That is what really makes me happy, and what keeps bringing me back to my keyboard every day.
Kathleen Taji remarked once that the thrill of seeing a book with your name on it actually published, holding it in your hands, is far more fulfilling than getting paid to do the translation. Kathleen and I have both been professional translators for a long time, but I have to agree with her that when it comes to literary translation, the sense of accomplishment is far, far more satisfying than the paycheck.
There are a lot of people out there, however, who have thought about translating something "serious" but never gotten around to it. And there are a lot of students and other people just entering the field who want to sink their teeth into something juicy and worry it into a readable English story. By offering the KHP Translation Prize, I am giving these people incentive to try.
Sure, it's not much money, but even Seidensticker needed a day job to make ends meet...
Stephen Carter introduced me to a fascinating article – a school homework assignment, apparently – on Kafka. What does this have to do with translating East Asian literature? It is a good introduction to how different interpretations and expressions can totally change the meaning conveyed to the reader, and while Kafka is not East Asia, the author's illustrations and observations are definitely worth reading!
The whole site, in fact, by Victoria S. Poulakis of Northern Virginia Community College, is worth looking into. Highly recommended!
Anything on the horizon at KHP?
Yes, actually, and hopefully I'll get into them in a bit more detail next time. A few of the projects not listed on the website yet include "overview" anthologies for mystery and horror, similar in concept to our kaiki anthology now in progress, and the second Speculative Japan volume. These are all a bit in the future yet, and contents remain fluid.