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…
The Stinky Ocean
‘It was a peculiar, alopecic landscape of hummocks and gullies, with patches of grass growing on what looked like white earth, and rarely a soul to be seen.’
Ian Jack on the legacy of the Scottish textile bleaching industry.
I’ve Been Away for a While
‘When the world releases him from its oily grip will there still be a world?’
Fiction by Dan Shurley, featuring the 2019 explosion of an oil refinery in Philadelphia.
Death Takes the Lagoon
‘Black waves bring animals to the town’s shore. Sticky corpses float on the oil.’
Ariel Saramandi on the sinking of the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius.
House of Flies
‘None of us hung out with them or knew them really, except two boys in our class, who stopped going to school after crude oil became such a big deal.’
A story by Claudia Durastanti, translated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris.
‘His best photographs are expressionistic, almost calligraphic, as though he’s displaying the hidden signatures our collective appetites have etched across the Earth.’
Anthony Doerr introduces the photography of Edward Burtynsky.
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 →