17 Jul 2019
6th April 2018
Heaven's Wind: a new bilingual anthology
Heaven's Wind, published by The Japan Society, is the world’s first dual language anthology of Japanese women’s writing.
The authors were born over fifty years from 1929 to 1979, and their stories written over the past five decades. Tales of deceit, loss and self-affirmation are set against pre-war to post-tsunami backdrops, ranging over town, countryside, suburb and coast. One thousand years since Murasaki Shikibu wrote The Tale of Genji – generally agreed to be the world's first novel – Heaven's Wind gives a unique perspective on the power of women writers in Japan today.
The five writers featured – Kuniko Mukoda, Natsuko Kuroda, Kaori Ekuni, Mitsuyo Kakuta and Aoko Matsuda – include four Naoki and Akutagawa Prize winners. The English translations are by award-winning translator Angus Turvill. While all five writers have been translated into English before, in the case of Mukoda and Kuroda in winning and commended entries to the John Dryden Translation competition, it is hoped this anthology will bring them to wider attention.
Speaking about working on Heaven's Wind, Turvill said: "I think the process of translation is wonderful for language learning. It focuses one's attention on details of a text that might slip by unnoticed in a more casual reading, and puts a gentle spotlight on what one doesn't know or understand. It makes one notice how languages really differ and how those differences may affect people's perception of the world."
Aimed at readers of either or both languages, the anthology aims to bring people from different cultures together: having both texts in the same book gives the stories, and their readers, the same starting point. It may have a strong appeal to language learners too, with the stories being presented in parallel-text format, and comprehensive furigana reading guides throughout. For those interested in learning more about the translation process, Turvill's afterword highlights ways in which translation can or must change meaning and structure – an analysis which reflects his experience teaching Japanese translation at universities and summer schools in the UK.
Please learn more and order copies on The Japan Society's website, currently available with a 25% launch discount, from £12 to £9: https://www.japansociety.org.uk/44208/heavens-wind/
Readers interested in paralell text anthologies might also look at 2011's Short Stories in Japanese: New Penguin Parallel Text and Breaking Into Japanese Literature: Seven Modern Classics in Parallel Text, published in 2003.