Toshiki Okada’s ‘Breakfast’ seems as though it ought to provide plenty of material for a discussion of the challenges with which it confronts a translator. Here is one candidate: its punctuation. The punctuation is decidedly non-English. How does one translate a comma from Japanese into Englis…
Recommended Reads | Spring
The Secret Loves of Flowers
‘The flirtations of insects and plants are furtive, hidden and often so brief that if you literally blink you might miss what exactly is going on.’
Dino J. Martins on moths and orchids, from Granta 153: Second Nature.
‘The origin of the dysfunctional family: spores. / Friend or foe? True fern or ally?’
Poems by Sylvia Legris, author of Garden Physic.
One Muggy Spring, Thanks, Dot and Secretly Try
‘And the trees were safely tucked in. Their roots were rallying in the soil, in this coil. Would the woman also take a turn for the better in her last decade?’
Three stories by Diane Williams.
Ladies! Be Your Own Grave
‘walking alone down a country road – / distracted by the slightly annoying and toxic / first green of spring, eyes overflowing’
A poem by Emily Skillings.
‘Whatever the aftermath, you won’t see the city again except through the agency of absence, recalling this semi-emptiness, this viral uncertainty.’
From 2020: China Miéville on the UK government’s response to coronavirus.
Translated by Michael Emmerich
Michael Emmerich is Professor of Japanese literature at the University of California, Los Angeles and Director of the Tadashi Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities. He is the author of The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature and Tentekomai: bungaku wa hi kurete michi tōshi, the editor of Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers and New Penguin Parallel Texts: Short Stories in Japanese, and the translator of numerous works of premodern to contemporary Japanese literature by authors ranging from Kawabata Yasunari and Inoue Yasushi to Yoshimoto Banana and Takahashi Gen’ichirō.More about the translator →