Edited and Translated by Angus Turvill
The Japan Society (2018)
Heaven’s Wind is a collection of short stories by five of Japan’s leading contemporary authors: Kuniko Mukoda – The Otter; Natsuko Kuroda – Ball, Kaori Ekuni – Summer Blanket; Mitsuyo Kakuta – The Child over There; and Aoko Matsuda – Planting. Taking its name from one of Japan’s best known classical poems, Heaven’s Wind (Amatsukaze) is the world’s first dual language anthology of Japanese women’s writing, including four Naoki and Akutagawa Prize winners. The English versions are by award-winning translator Angus Turvill.
The authors were born over fifty years from 1929 to 1979, and their stories were written over the past five decades. These gently written tales of deceit, loss and self-affirmation are set against pre-war to post-tsunami backdrops, ranging over town, countryside, suburb and coast. One thousand years since a Japanese woman wrote the world’s first novel, this wonderful anthology gives a unique perspective on the power of women writers in Japan today.
Aimed at readers of either or both languages, the book seeks to bring people from different cultures together in the shared experience of reading the same stories from the same book. Often translations are presented to the world as quite different products from the originals – the cover, size and marketing content taking the two versions in different directions. Having both texts in the same book gives the stories, and their readers, the same starting point.
Like all great work, this anthology effortlessly spans the divides of gender and generation. It has great appeal too for language learners, the stories being presented in a parallel-text format. The major hurdle for learners of Japanese – how to read the kanji characters – is cleared through the provision of comprehensive rubi reading guides throughout.
For those who wonder how similar the translations are to their originals in terms of text, Turvill’s afterword (Spot the Difference!) highlights ways in which the translation process can or must change meaning and structure.
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