Medoruma’s In the Woods of Memory to be first Okinawan novel published as stand-alone English book

Medoruma’s In the Woods of Memory to be first Okinawan novel published as stand-alone English book

Professor Takuma Sminkey of Okinawa International University who translated In the Woods of Memory


March 16, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 13 Akutagawa Prize-winning novelist Shun Medoruma’s full-length novel Me no Oku no Mori (Kage Shobo Publishing, 2009) will be published as an English paperback version of the book titled In the Woods of Memory. This is the first time a piece of Okinawan literature has been translated to a full-length English version as a stand-alone book.

Professor Takuma Sminkey of Okinawa International University handled translation of the novel. He was born in the United States and moved to Okinawa in 2004 to take a new job at Okinawa International University. After moving there he began handling the translation of Okinawan literature.

Me no Oku no Mori was printed in the quarterly arts and culture journal Zen-ya (The Eve) from 2004 through 2007. Set on the northern part of Okinawa Island toward the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the book begins with an incident in which four American soldiers assault a young girl. The stories develop through the perspective of ten different people, including a young man who targets American soldiers to avenge the girl’s attack, and American soldiers who acted as assailants. This book depicts the sad chain of events leading up to the present. Medoruma linguistically experimented in the work, and among Medoruma’s literature it is considered his masterpiece.

Other English translations of Okinawan literature occurred in 1989 when Tatsuhiro Oshiro’s The Cocktail Party and Mineo Higashi’s Child of Okinawa were published together in one book as Okinawa: Two Postwar Novellas. Recently, University of Hawaii Press has been planning several anthologies compiling Okinawan modern poetry and short stories.

In the Woods of Memory is being published by Stone Bridge Books, a US publisher that publishes Japanese and Chinese literature in translation, among other things. In Japan the retail price will be 1,965 yen.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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