Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature Awarded

May 1, 2012 

JUSFC congratulates the 2012 winners of The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature.  During an award ceremony at the Donald Keene Center for Japanese Studies at Columbia University, Dr. Matthew Fraleigh of Brandeis University received the prize for classical literature for his annotated translations of New Chronicles of Yanagibashi and Diary of a Journey to the West:  Narushima Ryuhoku Reports from Home and Abroad (Cornell East Asia Series).   Dr. J. Keith Vincent of Boston University won the prize in modern literature for his multi-layered interpretation of The Food Demon (in A Riot of Goldfish, Hesperus Worldwide).  The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission provided a grant to The Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University to jury the selection for the best translation of a modern and a classical work of Japanese literature.

Dr. Fraleigh’s book helps us appreciate the pivotal position Ryuhoku occupied as someone who bridged the literary worlds of both Edo and Meiji.  Fraleigh masterfully preserves the linguistic playfulness of the test by providing translations of the colloquial glosses that Ryuhoku added to his Chinese prose.

Dr. Vincent’s translation successfully captures the author’s many-layered portrait of a complicated “sensei” of cuisine, a man whose distain for others finds an expression in the perfection of his culinary taste and performance as a cook.  The richness of Okamoto’s insistent prose is well matched in the sureness of Vincent’s well-measured rhythms and melodic phrasing.