JUSFC40: JUSFC Prizes for Translation of Japanese Literature Announced

January 11, 2016 

JUSFC Executive Director Paige Cottingham-Streater with the 2015 Prize Winners Three outstanding scholars are the recipients of the 2015 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, recently awarded during a ceremony at the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, Columbia University.

Since its establishment in 1975, on of the ways in which the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission has supported and sustained the bilateral relationship between the United States and Japan, is by encouraging scholarship related to Japan.

Steven Carter, The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays
Stephen D. Carter brings together samplings from the particularly hard-to-categorize genre of the zuihitsu, or random jottings. The Columbia Book of Japanese Essays is a readable, carefully produced volume of this and that, from Sei Shōnagon’s classic sentiments about the four seasons, to Matsudaira Sadanobu on cherry blossoms, to Mukoda Kuniko’s thoughts on winter gloves. The translation was published by Columbia University Press in 2014. Carter is the Yamato Ichihashi Chair in Japanese History and Civilization at Stanford University. His Waiting for the Wind: Thirty-Six Poets of Japan’s Late Medieval Age (Columbia University Press, 1989) previously won the JUSFC Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature in 1989.

Stephen Miller and Patrick Donnelly, The Wind from Vulture Peak
Stephen Miller, and Patrick Donnelly, give us brilliantly fresh translations of waka (5-7-5-7-7 syllable Japanese poems) in his The Wind From Vulture Peak: The Buddhification of Japanese Waka in the Heian Period (Cornell East Asian Series, 2013), a study of the Heian-period Buddhification of the genre. In the words of Laurel Rasplica Rodd, also a winner of the prize (1982), these translations “are nothing short of breathtaking … inaugurat[ing] a new era in the translation of classical Japanese poetry.” Miller is an associate professor of Japanese language and literature at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Donnelly is the author of two books of poetry, an associate editor of Poetry International, director of the annual Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, and teaches at Smith College.  Coincidentally, Donnelly is an alumnus of the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship, which is also funded by the JUSFC.

Terry Gallagher, Self-Reference Engine
Terry Gallagher’s lively translation of Toh EnJoe’s Self-Reference Engine (VIZ Media, 2013) contributes high-concept SF to the ever-widening realm of Japanese literature in English translation. A third winner in a particular strong list of nominations this year, this fragmented narrative of artificial intelligences in their struggle with humanity is a contemporary word feast for the scientifically post-human reader. Gallagher has been a full-time freelance translator since 2000, mainly in business and finance.

About the Prize

The Donald Keene Center for Japanese Culture at Columbia University annually awards $6,000 in prize money for the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. Awarded annually since 1979 to the best book-length translation of a modern or classical work, the prize may go to an individual or be divided between equally distinguished translations. The prize is made possible by a grant from the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission.

The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission is marking its 40th anniversary through 2016. The Commission has spent the last four decades supporting the U.S.-Japan relationship through public policy, arts, culture, and educational exchanges.