This is a column for female translators! The event, which started in 2014, runs until the end of August. It shows about the gender imbalance of writers who specialize in translating foreign languages into English. However, there are also people who say that it is a gender imbalance not only of translators, but also editors or reviewers, bloggers.
A translator is someone who interprets works of other cultures into English. If you've read about Miyamoto Musashi's re-translation of The Odyssy or Maisy Hatchard's re-translation of Five Rings, you've probably found one woman's interpretation of the story reveals fresh approaches, introducing cultures differ from English speakers worldwide in a special way. (Especially in novels written by women!)
That is why I would like to introduce some female translators and their works for Women in Translation Month. Specifically about the incredible female translators of Japanese to English literature out there. (Update: no more than 11 translators to be specific because there are so many we can't list them all!)
(I really mean two groups, the first group is the people who translate literature from Japanese to English and the next article will be about the manga translators. So keep an eye on that!) The following list of Literature Translators translates from Japanese to English in no particular order.
11 Famous Translators Specializing in Japanese Novels to English.
1. Ginny Tapley Takemori
Ginny is a British translator living in Japan who has been translating and editing novels from Japanese to English for about 15 years. Her works have been hugely popular in the West with The Secret of the Blue Glass nominated for the Marsh Award and Convenience Store Woman making a splash last year. You can watch her interview with Polly Barton by the Japan Foundation on YouTube.
She is also one of the people behind Strong Women, Soft Power. Lucy North, Allison Markin Powell and Ginny Tapley Takemori are three female translators of Japanese literature into English who are promoting awareness of Japanese female writers who have not yet had the courage to translate and publish books in English. Brother.
Here are some of her works that you should check out:
- The Little House by Kyoko Nakajima
- The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui
- Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
- Earthlings by Sayaka Murata
2. Alison Watts
Alison is a translator who was born in Australia but has lived in Japan for many years. Alison's translation career started in the commercial translation industry, but an illness changed her life, so she decided to focus on what she loved and turned to literary translation in 2016. Her first novel was Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa.
- Sweet Bean Paste by Durian Sukegawa
- Spark by Naoki Matayoshi
- The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda
- Tao of Aya Goda
3. Molly Lee
Molly is an American translator who primarily translates video games, including visual novels, but she also works on a number of light novels. Her experience in translating video game dialogue means her novel translations (especially the dialogue) are particularly interesting.
You can learn more about her perspective on translation and experience in Interviews with Natives.
- Ride Your Wave by Masaaki Yuasa, Mika Toyoda, Reiko Yoshida
- Kokoro Connect by Sadanatsu Anda
- Adachi and Shimamura by Hitoma Iruma
- Sexyled: My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out, So I Teamed Up With A Legendary
- Sorceress! by Ameko Kaeruda
4. Louise Heal Kawai
Louise is a British literary translator who teaches at the prestigious Waseda University in Tokyo. After earning a Master's degree in Translation from the University of Sheffield in the UK, she moved to Texas, USA, then to Yokohama, Japan and has been working as a translator for over 15 years. I really want to suggest you check out the amazing podcast interview at In GAD We Trust where she talks about some of her translation process!
- Yakuza Moon: Confessions of a Gangster's Daughter by Shoko Tendo
- Ms. Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami
- The Honjin Murders by Seishi Yokomizo
- A Quiet Place by Seicho Matsumoto
- Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyamateen
5. Allison Markin Powell
Allison is a literary translator and editor. Her translations have been nominated for numerous awards, including Strange Weather in Tokyo (by Hiromi Kawakami) for the Independence Foreign Fiction Prize, and her translation of The Briefcase (by Hiromi Kawakami) nominated for the Man Asian Literary Prize .
Allison is also a publisher and she finds that in Japan almost half of the population are women, but Japanese female authors make up only about 26% of the authors translating into English from Japanese. (Data from interview with Asian Books Blog.) This is why she is a member of Strong Women, Soft Power along with Lucy North and Ginny Tapley Takemori.
- Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
- The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami
- The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami
- Parade: A Folktale by Hiromi Kawakami
6. Diana Taylor
Diana translates mainly light novels and manga but also writes, edits, and develops games. She started translating light novels in 2017 after a few years of working part-time as a freelancer on various topics. You can read more about her translation work at Interviews With Localizers.
- At Night I Become a Monster by Yoru Sumino
- I Had That Same Dream Again by Yoru Sumino
- Didn't I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! by FUNA
7. Juliet Winters Carpenter
Juliet is an American translator who has been translating modern Japanese literature for over 40 years. She is also a professor at Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto. Abe Kobo's translation of Secret Rendezvous was awarded the 1980 Japan-US Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation for Japanese Literature. And her translation of Minae Mizumura's A True Novel won the same award in 2014 and won many other awards including the 2014 Lewis Galantiere Award from the American Translators Association.
There are 39 books that she did on Goodreads and here are a few of them:
- Secret Rendezvous by Abe Kobo
- A True Novel by Minae Mizumura
- The Great Passage by Shion Miura
- Masks by Fumiko Enchi
8. Polly Barton
Polly is a British translator living in the United Kingdom, specializing in the translation of short stories and novels (both fiction and non-fiction). She graduated with SOAS' Master of Theory and Practice in Translation and worked for Nintendo Europe before moving into literary translation.
Polly was recently rated as one of the translators worth following on the monkey business blog. She was also interviewed alongside Ginny Tapley Takemori by the Japan Foundation which you can watch on YouTube.
- Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda
- Friendship for Grown-ups by Naocola Yamazaki
- Mikumari by Misumi Kubo
- Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki Garden
9. Lucy North
Lucy is a British translator and editor with a PhD in modern Japanese literature from Harvard University. She has lived in Japan for almost 14 years. She is also one of the powerful assistants behind Strong Women, Soft Power, along with Allison Markin Powell and Ginny Tapley Takemori. Lucy was interviewed at Women in Translation Month 2017 about Japanese female writers. (Sadly the link to the full interview is no longer active, but the excerpts are really cool!)
- Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami
- Toddler-Hunting & Other Stories by Taeko Kono
- One Sunny Day by Yuichi Kimura
10. Rebecca Copeland
Rebecca is an American Japanese translator and Professor of Japanese Language and Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, USA. She is an academic and creative writer but Kirino Natsuo's The Goddess Chronicle won the 2013 PEN Translates Award and The 2014-15 Japan-US Friendship Commission Prize for Translation of Japanese Literature.
- Groteque by Kirino Natsuo
- The Goddess Chronicle by Kirino Natsuo
11. Deborah Iwabuchi
Deborah is an American translator living in Japan who has been translating for over 30 years! She runs her own company and has worked on a wide variety of genres, including translating literature, most notably the works of Miyuki Miyabe.
- The Devil's Whisper by Miyuki Miyabe
- The Sleeping Dragon by Miyuki Miyabe
- Beyond the Blossoming Fields by Jun'ichi Watanabe
- Little Keys and the Red Piano by Hideko Ogawa (co-translated by Kazuko Enda)
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