Tokyo: Writing Lessons from Entertainment Translation

Speaker: Alexander O. Smith
Place: Wesley Center (6-10-7 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo) 東京都港区南青山6-10-7 (Map)
Date: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Time: 3:00–5:00 p.m.
Attendance Fee: 1,000 yen for SWET members; 1,500 yen for non-members; special student rate, 500 yen.

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This talk will introduce a few concepts practiced in entertainment (e.g., game and fantasy fiction) translation. What goes on the balancing scale when you're fine-tuning a choice of words? When is it okay to step outside the bounds of your original text in service to a smoother translation? What are some resources we can use to ratchet up the quality of an "entertainment" translation? Bring your ideas and questions for an open discussion on creative translation.

Smith gave a similar presentation in June as part of the SCBWI Tokyo Translation Day 2012 program. For a brief report, see the recent issue of the SCBWI newsletter, Carp Tales, p. 3.

Alexander O. Smith has been translating video games and novels from Japanese to English since graduating from Harvard University with an MA in Classical Japanese Literature in 1998. He is the founder of Kajiya Productions Inc., co-founder of Bento Books Inc., and based in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom and Fukuoka. His translation of YA fantasy novel Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe earned the prestigious Mildred L. Batchelder Award for translated children's literature in 2008. At the time, only two books from Japan had earned the award in its 40-year history. Smith has translated more than twenty other novels, including Harmony by Project Itoh, recipient of the Phillip K. Dick Award special citation in 2010 for science fiction, and The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, a nominee for Best Novel in the 2012 Edgar Awards for mystery—only the second book from Japan to be so distinguished. Smith has also localized numerous video games including Final Fantasy XII, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and most recently, Tactics Ogre: PSP. He is currently working in Japan to expand Bento Books Inc.'s publishing efforts. Smith translated a parable in verse by Yuichi Kimura for Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction—An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories.