On the sixth 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 winner of the 2019 Prize.
In the category of “Unpublished Translator,” the prize has been awarded to Michelle Kyoko Crowson (Ph. D. Student, Comparative Literature, the University of Oregon), for Akiko Akazome’s The Maiden’s Betrayal (Otome no mikkoku, 2010). Akiko Akazome received the 143rd Akutagawa Award for this piece in 2010. The original text of The Maiden’s Betrayal narrates the reception, recitation, and interpretation of Das Tagebucher der Anne Frank (Diary of Anne Frank) among the female students in a German class at a foreign studies university in Kyoto. Skillfully and strategically narrated, this novel problematizes some fundamental issues about the reading of literature, its reception, and the role of translation in the very transmission of the novelistic narrative. The Diary of Anne Frank was written in Dutch, but its global fame was built on and through many versions of its translations. In Japan, the romanticizing of the authorial figure, Anne Frank, is no exception on this score. Akiko Akazawa created a narrative in which female students built a cult around the mythical image of Anne Frank, through the reading, recitation, interpretation and translation of her text. Thus Otome no mikkoku itself is a text thematically problematizing translation. Michelle Kyoko Crowson translated this exceptionally self-critical text into English, without neutralizing the critical nuances of the original. Crowson’s translation renders, in delightfully readable English, Akazome’s witty satire of the Anne Frank cult, as well as the dynamics of rumor among female students devoted to literary reading.
Regrettably, this year, we have received no application in the category of “Already Published Translator,” so no prize is offered in this category. However, it is worth noting that this year’s competition involved a wide variety of translated pieces, ranging from short literary essays, journalist reportage, and academic literary criticism to short novels. We are delighted to be reminded that translation applies to a wide spectrum of genres. We would like to encourage more translators to join this competition next year.