Bringing fresh Japanese voices to the English-language readership
NCW announces new three-year partnership with the Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities at UCLA

We are pleased to announce a new three-year partnership with the Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities at UCLA, to bring an exciting new range of Japanese writers to the English-language readership.

Working with Strangers Press, based at the University of East Anglia, the project will include the publication of Kyōkai, a series of five chapbooks, edited by Polly Barton and Asa Yoneda. It builds on the success of Keshiki, a series of eight Japanese chapbooks that has sold over 10,000 copies to date. The new Kyōkai series will focus on writers who are often marginalised – linguistically or geographically – to provide an alternative view of contemporary Japan.

The partnership also includes the renowned British Centre for Literary Translation. 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, Jesse Kirkwood, who is being mentored by Polly Barton.

Michael Emmerich, Director of the Yanai Initiative, said:

‘The people at the National Centre for Writing and BCLT have done so much 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.’

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. We’re looking forward to getting started on the new Kyōkai chapbooks.’

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.’

‘It feels like a uniquely exciting moment for Japanese literature in the publishing industry’

Kyoko Yoshida, author of Spring Sleepers, published as part of the first series of Japanese chapbooks, Keshiki, said:

‘Keshiki broadened my literary landscape through the collaboration with the National Centre for Writing and UEA. Its innovative format and the idea of a collection of chapbooks presents contemporary Japanese authors as a variety of unique voices, writing separately but together.’

Translator and series editor 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 and series editor 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.’

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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