Episodes 25 and 26: Translating Japanese to English, Parts 1 and 2

This episode page includes resources and bibliography for Translating Japanese to English Part 1 and Part 2. Listen to part 1. Listen to part 2.

Part 1 transcript available. Part 2 transcript available.

How does a book make it from the mind of a Japanese author into the hands of an English-language reader?

In this two-part episode, we’ll tackle the entire process—from book acquisition by a publisher, to pairing a book with a translator, to the actual process of translation. We’ll also talk about some of the ethical issues translation involves, all through the lens of Minae Mizumura’s An I-Novel, translated into English by Juliet Winters Carpenter.

Please note that part one mistakenly claims author Astrid Lindgren and her Pippi Longstocking series are Norwegian. They are Swedish.

Support this podcast by buying from Bookshop.org.

More Writing by Minae Mizumura:

Part 1 also mentions:

Part 2 also mentions:

Find Out More

Author Minae Mizumura’s English-language website.

My review of An I-Novel in Asian Review of Books (2021).

One Bright Book discusses An I-Novel. June 2023 podcast episode, because great minds think alike.

“Does Literature Have to Be Monolingual? Ellen Jones on Minae Mizumura’s An I-Novel and Multilingualism in Translation” at the CUP Blog (2021). This blog post includes a 13-page PDF preview of Carpenter’s translation.

Juliet Winters Carpenter talks about her career as a literary translator (2021). Video.

The official website of the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies.

Khairani Barokka’s “The Case Against Italicizing ‘Foreign’ Words at Catapult (2020).

The Japanese Literature Publishing Project.

Generation TF: Who Is Really Reading Translated Fiction in the UK at The Booker Prizes (2022).

“Which Japanese books Get Left Out of Translation” by Eric Margolis at Unseen Japan (2023). Publishers Weekly’s incomplete statistics lead Margolis to some false conclusions, but this is still a fascinating and informative article. (My apologies to Margolis. In the episode, I believe I have mispronounced his name and put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.)

Korean-to-English translator Anton Hur’s “Pitch Guide for Translators” (2023).

Spanish-to-English translator Sophie Hugh’s “Five Great Tips for Getting Started as a Literary Translator” at the National Centre for Writing (2020).

The PEN American Translation Committee issued a “Manifesto on Literary Translation” (2023).

Leo McDonagh on “Translating Gender from Japanese to English” on his blog, 2021.

Lucy North talks about kuriimu pan at Waseda, 2022.

Translator Michael Emmerich on the art of translating at Words without Borders, 2009.

The Translation Chat Podcast, hosted by Jennifer O’Donnell

J-En Translations.com (Jennifer O’Donnell)

Juliet Winters Carpenter talks about collaborating with Minae Mizumura at Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators (2014).

Juliet Winters Carpenter talks about collaborating with Minae Mizumura at The Conversation (2015).

Seven translators present their versions of the same passage from Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel at SCWBI Japan.

Lisa Hoffman-Kuroda’s Twitter thread about translation issues (2023).

Anton Hur on “How I Learned the Truth about Young, Open-Minded Readers of Translated Fiction” at The Booker Prizes, 2023.

Translator Interviews—Emily Balistrieri

Emily Balistrieri at J-En Translations (2019)

Emily Balistrieri and Andrew Cunningham at The Millions (2019)

Emily Balistrieri at NonNative Creative (2019)

Emily Balistrieri at SCWBI Japan (2021)

Emily Balistrieri at Where There’s Ink There’s Paper (2021)

Balistrieri’s Translations

Daniel Joseph’s Translations

Translator Interviews—Louise Heal Kawai

Louise Heal Kawai at Savvy Tokyo (2019)

Louise Heal Kawai at Books and Bao (2022)

Louise Heal Kawai at SCWBI Japan (2022)

Kawai’s Translations:

Translator Interviews—Avery Fischer Udagawa

Avery Fischer Udagawa at Borderless (2021)

Avery Fischer Udagawa at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (2021)

Avery Fischer Udagawa speaks about “The Hidden Art of Literary Translation” at The Hong Kong International Literary Festival (with Mary King Bradley and Jacqueline Leung, 2023)

Udagawa’s Translations:

More Translator Interviews of Interest

Polly Barton at Waseda (2022)

Polly Barton, Daniel Hahn, and Aaron Robertson at The Booker Prizes (2023)

Sam Bett and David Boyd at Asymptote (2020)

Sam Bett and David Boyd at Harvard Review (2021)

Michael Emmerich at Waseda (2022)

Morgan Giles at Books and Bao (2022)

Ted Goossen at Waseda (2021)

Cathy Hirano at BookBlast (2017)

Allison Markin Powell and Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda at Oxford Political Review (2023)

Margaret Mitsutani at Waseda (2021)

Lucy North at Waseda (2022)

Andrew Wong at SCWBI Japan (2020)

Hitomi Yoshio at Waseda (2021)

Japanese Literature at Facebook

Japanese Literature at Goodreads

Other RJL Episodes of Interest:


Allen, Esther and Susan Bernofsky, eds. In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means. CUP, 2013.

Barokka, Khairani. “The Case against Italicizing ‘Foreign’ Words” at Catapult, 2020. (free)

Bhanot, Kavita and Jeremy Tiang. “Introduction” in Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation. Edited by Kavita Bhanot and Jeremy Tiang, Tilted Axis Press, 2022.

The Booker Prizes. “Generation TF: Who Is Really Reading Translated Fiction in the UK” at The Booker Prizes, 2023. (free)

Buchanan, Rowan Hisayo. “Who You’re Reading When You Read Haruki Murakami” in The Atlantic, 2020. (free)

Carpenter, Juliet Winters. “Absorbed in Translation: The Art—and Fun—of Literary Translation” at TheConversation.com, 2015. (free)

Carpenter, Juliet Winter and Mari Yoshihara. “Introduction” in The Fall of Language in the Age of English, Columbia, 2015.

Cunningham, Andrew and Emily Balistrieri. “Readers Don’t Need to Be Babied: A Conversation on Translating Japanese Literature” at TheMillions.com, 2019. (free)

Fowler, Edward. The Rhetoric of Confession: Shishōsetsu in Early Twentieth-Century Japanese Fiction, U of CA, 1992. 

“I Can’t Translate This! Remarks from Twelve Translators” in Monkey: New Writing from Japan, vol. 2, 2021.

Hur, Anton. “The Mythical English Reader” in Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation. Edited by Kavita Bhanot and Jeremy Tiang, Tilted Axis Press, 2022.

Iwabachi, Deborah. “The Easy Life in Kamusai and Kamusari Tales Told at Night: A Conversation with Translator Juliet Winters Carpenter” at SCWBI Japan Translation Group, 2022. (free)

Karashima, David. Who We’re Reading When We’re Reading Murakami. Soft Skull, 2020.

Kareem, Mona. “Western Poets Kidnap Your Poems and Call Them Translations: On the Colonial Phenomenon of Rendition as Translation” in Violent Phenomena: 21 Essays on Translation. Edited by Kavita Bhanot and Jeremy Tiang, Tilted Axis Press, 2022.

Keene, Donald. “The I-Novel” in Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the Modern Era—Fiction, 4th ed., 1999.

Margolis, Eric. “How the English Language Failed Banana Yoshimoto” at Metropolis, 2021. (free)

–. “Which Japanese Books Get Left Out of Translation” at UnseenJapan.com, 2023. (free)

Minghdoll, Jackie Friedman. “Jackie Friedman Mighdoll Talks with Translator Emily Balistrieri about Soul Lanterns” at SCBWI Japan, 2021. (free)

Mizumura Minae. The Fall of Language in the Age of English, Columbia, 2015.

Ortabasi, Melek. “Bridge Essay: Literary Translation in the Modern World” in A Companion to World Literature, ed. Ken Seigneurie, John Wiley & Sons, 2019.

Powell, Allison Markin. “Translating Women in Essential: Allison Markin Powell on Translating Kaoru Takamura’s Groundbreaking Japanese Crime Epic” at Soho.com, 2022. (free)

Udagawa, Avery Fischer and Mitali Chakravarty. “Translating Japanese: In Conversation with Avery Fischer Udagawa” at Borderless, 2021. (free)

Udagawa, Avery Fischer and Nanette McGuiness. “#Worldkitlit Weekend: A Coversation with Avery Fischer Udagawa, Translator of Award-Winning Japanese Children’s Author Sachiko Kashiwaba” at GlobalLiteratureinLibrariesInitiative.com, 2021. (free)

Zielinska-Elliott, Anna and Lynne E. Riggs. “True Collaboration on A True Novel.” Interview with Juliet Winters Carpenter at SWET: Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators, 2014. (free).

5 thoughts on “Episodes 25 and 26: Translating Japanese to English, Parts 1 and 2

Leave a Reply