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2015 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize Awarded to Andrew Murakami-Smith for "Muddy River"

       Cornell’s Asian Studies Department has awarded the 2015 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize to Andrew Murakami-Smith for his translation of the 1977 short story “Muddy River” (“Doro no kawa”) by contemporary author Miyamoto Teru. Set in the city of Osaka in the late 1950’s, the story won the Dazai Osamu literary award the year it was published in Japan. In 1981, it became the basis for the well-known film of the same name, directed by Oguri Kōhei. Another of Miyamoto’s works, Phantom Lights, has been made into the acclaimed Maborosi , directed by Koreeda Hirokazu in 1995. Professor Murakami-Smith teaches at the Graduate School of Language and Culture at Osaka University and is a specialist in the language, literature, and culture of the Osaka area. He is a previous winner of the William F. Sibley Prize offered by the University of Chicago.

      The Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize is awarded on the basis of an international competition, and this year’s competition attracted submissions from around the world. The prize was established in 2015 by family, friends, and former students of Kyoko Selden, Senior Lecturer in Japanese Language at Cornell, who passed away in 2013.  Known for her mastery of literary genres and scripts ranging from the classical to the modern, Kyoko taught generations of students at Cornell during her over two decades in the Department of Asian Studies. Among her prolific translations were many that broke new ground in introducing work by women writers, A-bomb survivors, and Ainu and Okinawan authors.  In the same spirit of expanding availability, all winners of the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize are published in the on-line Asia Pacific Journal.

       “Osaka has traditionally been known as a city of rivers,” says Brett de Bary, Professor of Asian and Comparative Literature and colleague of Kyoko Selden. “In the view of the Selections Committee, Murakami-Smith’s translation powerfully captures the ebb and flow of Osaka’s language, its many rivers, and the precarious lives eked out along their banks in the late 1950’s. We are delighted to offer him this year’s award.” 

To read the full transalation on the on-line Asia Pacific Journal see

For submission guidelines and past awards see