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2016 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize awarded to Polly Barton for translation of Hishoku (Not of Color; 『非色』)

Hishoku cover

The Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University is pleased to announce the recipient of the third Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize for 2016. The prize seeks to honor our late colleague, Kyoko Selden, by providing recognition and support for outstanding translations of Japanese texts representative of her broad interests as a scholar and translator.

This year’s Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize has been awarded to Polly Barton for selections from her translation of Ariyoshi Sawako’s novel Hishoku (Not of Color; 『非色』), published by Kadokawa Shoten in 1965. The novel depicts the experiences of a Japanese-African American bi-racial couple living in New York City in the 1950’s, especially those of its Japanese war bride protagonist. Based on Ariyoshi’s own experiences living in New York at the time, it demonstrates the author’s evolving awareness of the unique power of fiction to both analyze and evoke an affective response to social contradictions. Not of Color offers a rare perspective on the complexity of intertwining, yet hierarchized, ascriptions of racial categories in American postwar society.

This year’s prize recognizes that the translation into English of Hishoku, long out of print in Japan, will bring timely scholarly attention to the historical significance of Ariyoshi’s text and the dynamics it attempts to describe. Polly Barton, awarded the prize in the “previously published translator” category, is a translator of Japanese literature and nonfiction. Born in London, she studied philosophy before traveling to Japan, and now lives and works in Osaka. She holds an MA in the Theory and Practice of Translation from SOAS, University of London, and was awarded first prize in the inaugural JLPP Translation Competition for her translations of Natsuki Ikezawa and Kobo Abe.