New UEA partnership to bring fresh Japanese voices to English-language readership

Published by  Communications

On 10th Feb 2021

Keshiki books

A publisher based at University of East Anglia (UEA) has entered into a new partnership with the National Centre for Writing and an internationally renowned initiative for Japanese Humanities.

Strangers Press, based at the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities (IIH) at UEA, will be working with the National Centre for Writing and the Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

In the manner of the successful Keshiki series of Japanese short stories, Kyōkai will be a series of five chapbooks edited by Polly Barton and Asa Yoneda. It will seek to focus on writers often marginalised - linguistically or geographically - to provide an alternative view of contemporary Japan.

The partnership is part of a wider programme of work led by the National Centre for Writing including the renowned British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT), also based at UEA. Bursaries will be available to support up-and-coming Japanese-English literary translators attending the BCLT online Summer School, in July 2021.

An annual mentorship will also be available to a Japanese-English translator showing exceptional promise. The translators will work with a mentor to develop their craft and make connections within the publishing industry. In 2020-21, the Yanai Initiative supported the Japanese mentorship for the winner of the 2020 Harvill Secker Young Translator Prize winner, Jesse Kirkwood, who is now being mentored by Polly Barton.

This wider three-year programme will be delivered by the National Centre for Writing in the UK, working in partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation and Strangers Press at the University of East Anglia.

Nathan Hamilton, Managing Director of UEA Publishing Project, said: “We are so pleased to be revisiting Japan with Strangers Press after our previous Keshiki series did so much to introduce a great selection of Japanese writers to anglophone readers. It's wonderful also to have the support and encouragement from Yanai Initiative as an endorsement of what we're doing and the National Centre for Writing have been a great partner in devising these ongoing projects.”

Translator Polly Barton, said: “I'm very happy to be a part of this project. It feels like a uniquely exciting moment for Japanese literature in the publishing industry, and I'm hoping this will be a chance to bring some new, strong, and diverse voices to the world of translated fiction.”

Translator Asa Yoneda, said: "We're delighted to be part of Strangers Press and NCW's commitment to publishing voices from around the world, and to work with the Yanai Initiative to build on the success of the beautiful and provocative Keshiki."

Michael Emmerich, Director of the Yanai Initiative, said: “The people at the National Centre for Writing and BCLT have done more than anyone else I can think of to promote translation and help emerging translators hone their talents. The increasing availability of exceptional translations of Japanese literature is a testament to the effectiveness of their approach, and I’m thrilled to be working with them on this long-term collaboration.”

Kate Griffin, Associate Programme Director at the National Centre for Writing, said: “This collaboration with the Yanai Initiative is very timely, given the increasing curiosity in the English-speaking world about contemporary writing from Japan. We will work with our partners and the cohort of literary translators to bring to the English-language readership an exciting range of new Japanese voices that are often marginalised, giving us fresh insight into contemporary Japan.”

Duncan Large, Academic Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation, said: “We look forward very much to hosting a group of Japanese-English translators at our Summer School once again, thanks to the support of the Yanai Initiative. UEA has developed many vital links with Japan over the years, and at BCLT we are thrilled to be able to continue our long-standing commitment to promoting Japanese-English literary translation in this way.”

This three-year programme will be delivered by the National Centre for Writing in the UK, working in partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation and Strangers Press at the University of East Anglia.


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