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2017 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prizes awarded to Nina Cornyetz and to Erin L. Brightwell

Kyoka Izumi writer

The Asian Studies Department of Cornell University is proud to announce the recipients of the 2017 Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize competition, concluded on November 1.

The prize for a published translator has been awarded to Nina Cornyetz, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Gallatin School of New York University, for her translation of Izumi Kyōka’s “Tale of the Enchanted Sword” (妖剣記聞, Yōken Kibun, 1920). Writings by Kyōka (1873-1939), renowned for his tales of the uncanny, the grotesque, and the supernatural, have been known to pose challenges to modern Japanese readers and scholars because of their densely allusive imagery and use of archaic phrases and orthography. Cornyetz’s translation, the first into English of this Kyōka text that combines features of both Edo-style and modernist writing, has been particularly successful in capturing the dazzling visual effects of its language.

The prize for an unpublished translator has been awarded to Erin L. Brightwell, Assistant Professor of Premodern Japanese Literature at the University of Michigan, for her translation of  “The Torrent” (奔流, Hon’ryū, 1943) by the Taiwanese writer Wang Changxiong  (王昶雄, also known by his Japanese name, Ō Chōyū), who lived from 1916 to 2000. Brightwell’s translation is a welcome contribution to recent scholarship on Japanese-language literature produced in the era of Japan’s multi-ethnic empire. The translation vividly renders into English the numerous subtly charged dialogues in this story, with their attendant psychic repercussions.