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The 2019 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize in Japanese Literature, Thought, and Society

The Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University is pleased to announce the 2019 prize honoring the life and work of our colleague, Kyoko Selden. The prize will pay homage to the finest achievements in Japanese literature, thought, and society through the medium of translation. Kyoko Selden's translations and writings ranged widely across such realms as Japanese women writers, Japanese art and aesthetics, the atomic bomb experience, Ainu and Okinawan life and culture, historical and contemporary literature, poetry and prose, and early education (the Suzuki method). Recognizing the breadth of Japanese writings, classical and contemporary, and with the aim of making such materials more widely available, we ask that prize submissions be of unpublished translations. Collaborative translations are welcomed. In order to encourage classroom use and wide dissemination of the winning entries, prize-winning translations will be made freely available on the web. The winning translations will be published online at The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

Prize selections will take into account both the quality of the translation and the significance of the original work. In cases where a text already published in English is deemed worthy of retranslation, new translations of significant texts are accepted (please provide date and place of earlier publication). Applicants should submit the following hard copies to the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize, Department of Asian Studies, 350 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853:

  • 1 copy of an unpublished translation
  • 1 copy of a statement of up to 1,000 words explaining the significance of the text. Although we do not require that the translator has already obtained permission to publish the translation from the copyright holder, please include in the statement information about whether preliminary inquiries have been made or whether or not the work is in the public domain.
  • 1 printed copy of the original Japanese text
  • A brief c.v. of the translator
  • In addition, please send electronic copies of all the above as attachments to seldenprize@cornell.edu.

The maximum length of a submission is 20,000 words. In case

of translation of longer works, submit an excerpt of up to 20,000 words. Repeat submissions are welcomed. Please note that

the closing date for the prize competition this year will be August 1, 2019. For the 2019 competition, one prize of $1,500 will be awarded in two different categories:

1) to an already published translator; 2) to an unpublished translator. The winners will be informed by November 1, 2019.

For further information, please visit the Asian Studies website or send questions to seldenprize@cornell.edu.

Articles by Inoue Hisashi

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Inoue Hisashi was born in 1934 in Yamagata Prefecture and educated at Sophia University in Tokyo. He worked as a scriptwriter and stage manager at the France Theater, a vaudeville theater in downtown Asakusa before becoming a writer for radio and television. For five years he wrote scripts for the popular puppet show "Hyokkori Hyotan Island." He debuted in the theater with "The Belly Button of the Japanese," following it with many highly successful plays such as "The Adventures of Dogen," "The Blind Master Yabuhara," "Makeup" and a series of plays about Japanese authors, Ichiyo Higuchi, Soseki Natsume and Osamu Dazai among them.

Inoue also wrote dozens of novels and books of collected essays and won many prizes, including the Naoki Prize and the prestigious Asahi Prize. In 1984 he founded Komatsuza, a theater troupe dedicated to the production of his work. He donated his private library of some 70,000 books to his hometown, where the "Writer's Block Library" was established. Kawanishi-machi Friendly Plaza is the location of the library and the "Citizens' School" founded under the auspices of Komatsuza with Inoue as principal.

He was chairman of the Japan Pen Club and artistic director of Komatsuza. Inoue Hisashi passed away on April 9, 2010, aged 75.