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2018 Kyoko Selden Translation Prize Announcement

November 1, 2018

On the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize through the generosity of her colleagues, students, and friends, the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Prize.

In the category of “Already Published Translator,” the prize has been awarded to Dawn Lawson (Head, Asia Library, University of Michigan), for Nakajima Shōen’s  A Famous Flower in Mountain Seclusion (Sankan no meika, 1889). Lawson’s translation makes available in English for the first time a full translation of the novella by the woman who, under the name Kishida Toshiko, was a powerful orator of the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement and key figure in early struggle for women’s rights in Japan. The translation renders into delightfully readable English Nakajima’s witty satire of Meiji mores, as well as her depiction of the isolation often endured by women who, like herself, pursued lives that did not entirely conform to patriarchal norms.

 “Honorable Mention in the category of “Already Published Translator” has been awarded to Bruce Allen, Faculty of Seisen University, Tokyo, for his eloquent translation of Chapter Four of Ishimure Michiko’s historical novel about the Shimabara Rebellion, Birds of Spirit (Anima no tori, 1999), which he is currently translating in its entirety. Allen’s rendition of the text is enriched by his long-standing engagement with the writings and powerful ecocritical vision of Ishimure, who passed away in 2018.

In the category of “Unpublished Translator,” the prize has been awarded to Max Zimmerman, of Nikkei America, for translating the short story, “An Artificial Heart” (Jinkō Shinzō, 1926) by Kosakai Fuboku. Like the Lawson translation, Zimmerman’s text makes available in English for the first time the work by an acclaimed pioneer of science fiction in Japan. Zimmerman’s meticulous and concise prose well captures the style of this breakthrough piece by Kosakai, a renowned researcher in physiology and serology, whose fictional account of the construction of an artificial heart anticipated the first successful heart transplant by almost sixty years. 

Shinto Gate