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04/22/2021 - 06/17/2021

JFNY Literary Series: Kanako Nishi x Allison Markin Powell


JFNY Literary Series invites notable writers in Japanese literature and their translators to discuss their work, speak on the art of translation, and touch upon the current literary scene in Japan.

This session features Kanako Nishi and her translator Allison Markin Powell, moderated by wrtier Kyoko Nakajima. Ginny Tapley Takemori from the collective Strong Women, Soft Power and interpreter Bethan Jones also join the session. Nishi is an award-winning writer who has published more than two dozen books in Japan. Several of her writings are available in English online, all of which were translated by Powell:

Merry Christmas
In the Age of Endless Scrolling, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki Helps Us Stand Still
On Beauty, Sexual Violence, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

The next session of JFNY Literary Series will feature Hiroko Oyamada and her translator David Boyd. Oyamada is an Akutagawa Prize-winning writer and the author of The Factory and The Hole, both of which were translated by Boyd. The Japan Foundation supported the English publications of The Hole through the Support Program for Translation and Publication on Japan. We invite questions for the guests to be submitted via the online form by Wednesday, May 12, 5pm EDT. Further details of this session will be announced soon.


Kanako Nishi was born in Tehran, and raised in Cairo and Osaka. Nishi made her debut in 2004 with short story collection Aoi (Blue). Her novel Tsutenkaku (Osaka Tower) won the Sakunosuke Oda Prize in 2007, and in 2012, she received the first Hayao Kawai Prize for her novel Fukuwarai (Lucky laugh). Her masterpiece, Saraba!, won the prestigious Naoki prize in 2015. She currently lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Allison Markin Powell has been awarded grants from English PEN and the NEA, and the 2020 PEN America Translation Prize for The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami. Her other translations include works by Osamu Dazai, Kanako Nishi, and Fuminori Nakamura. She was the co-organizer and co-host of the Translating the Future conference, served as cochair of the PEN America Translation Committee and currently represents the committee on PEN’s Board of Trustees, and she maintains the database Japanese Literature in English.

Kyoko Nakajima is a bestselling, award-winning novelist. Born in Tokyo in 1964, she first worked as an editor before her sensational debut in 2003 with the novel Futon, a humorous, modern reworking of a classic Japanese novel by Tayama Katai written a hundred years before. In 2010, she won the Naoki Prize, Japan’s most prestigious award for popular fiction, with the novel Chiisai ouchi, which Ginny Tapley Takemori has translated into English as The Little House (DARF Publishers, 2019). Since then, she has published many other prize-winning novels and collections of short stories, including Tsuma ga shiitake datta koro (When My Wife Was a Shiitake) which won the Izumi Kyōka Literary Prize, Nagai owakare (The Long Goodbye) which won the Chūō Kōrōn Prize for the Arts, and Katazuno! which won both the Kawai Hayao Narrative Award and the Shibata Renzaburō Award. Nakajima’s work has been translated into a variety of languages. For instance, in addition to English, her novel The Little House has been translated into Chinese, Korean, and French, and in 2014, it was adapted into a movie by the famous director Yamada Yōji. English translations of her short stories have appeared in Words Without Borders, Granta, and elsewhere, and in May 2021, she will publish a collection of these stories entitled Things Remembered Things Forgotten (Sort of Books).

Previous Sessions

JFNY Literary Series: Kickoff Event
JFNY Literary Series: Yu Miri x Morgan Giles
JFNY Literary Series: Sayaka Murata x Ginny Tapley Takemori

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