Thursday, March 27, 2014, 18:15 - 20:30
This book, published by Columbia University Press in 2011, is an English translation of the novel with which Levy Hideo made his debut in Japanese. When the first part was published in a literary magazine in 1987, it marked the first appearance of Japanese literary fiction by a Westerner whose mother tongue was not Japanese. It created a sensation in the literary world as it challenged a literary of assumptions about race, nationality and language. When published with the second and third parts as “Seijoki no kikoenai heya” in 1992, it received the Noma Award for New Writers (「野間文芸新人賞」). Oe Kenzaburo wrote in the Asahi Shimbun that “this writer clearly represents a new kind of novelist for Japanese literature.”
“Levy Hideo” is the pen name of Ian Hideo Levy. Born in the United States, raised in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Washington, D.C., he spent the first twenty years of his adult life as a translator and scholar of Japanese literature, teaching at Princeton University and Stanford University. He won a National Book Award in 1982 in the U.S. for his translations from the classical poetry anthology Manyoshu (「万葉集」). In 1990 he resigned from a tenured professorship at Stanford to live permanently in Tokyo. To date he has published seventeen volumes of fiction and non-fiction in Japanese, and has become a major international voice in contemporary literature. While his early works were a literary embodiment of the theme “Japan and the United States,” in recent years he has expanded his fictional world to include present-day Mainland China. He is currently a professor at Hosei University.
Looking back, on the story of the seventeen-year-old son of the American consul who runs away from home to wander the streets of Shinjuku in 1967, the author is struck by how deeply he had entered into the idiom of post-war Japanese writing even as he was situated on the “outside.” He had long assumed that this novel of a young outsider entering into the language and ethos of urban Japan was, paradoxically, “too Japanese” to be ever translated into English. In that sense Christopher Scott’s translation seems truly remarkable, at times even heroic.
The former translator now finds himself translated into his mother tongue by a fellow native. Perhaps it is the energy of retelling by a translator of a new generation that makes this 1992 novel of 1967 Tokyo seems so new and compelling today.
In the event, Levy will be present and answer questions in a cocktail party - "Meet the Author" - starting at 6:15 pm. Followed by dinner at 6:45pm (Menu : Sauteed Chicken Served with Grilled Vegetables). Drinks can be ordered on a cash basis from the bar in the room. Book Break charges 2,000 yen (including tax) for the event. Non-members eligible to attend may pay in cash.
Sign up now at the reception desk (03-3211-3161) or on the FCCJ website. To help us plan proper seating and food preparation, please reserve in advance, preferably by noon of the day of the event. Those without reservations will be turned away once available seats are filled. Reservations cancelled less than 24 hours in advance will be charged in full.
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