March 19, 2012

Japanese translators in New York


Michael Emmerich, the translator of Banana Yoshimoto’s The Lake among many other books, will be at New York’s McNally Jackson tonight for “The Bridge” translation series.

He’ll be joined by Ted Goossen, another Japanese translator, who has worked on Hiromi Kawakami, Yoko Ogawa, and Haruki Murakami.

As a sneak preview, the Bridge website recommends this interview with Emmerich from The Quarterly Conversation, wherein Emmerich talks about working on Yoshimoto’s novels:

I try to balance myself somewhere between Japanese and English or rather to keep myself as much as possible in both languages at once, like a ghost that isn’t entirely here but isn’t entirely gone, either. To produce a work that feels right to me both as English prose and as a translation from Japanese. [… A]ll I can say is that each author and each work and each sentence in each work requires that one perform a different sort of balancing act. Usually several different balancing acts at once, in fact.


Kelly Burdick is the executive editor of Melville House.