Publishing Research Quarterly

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 31–36 | Cite as

Books are silent ambassadors: The Noma award for the translation of Japanese literature

  • Toyo Yoshizaki


Now more than ever good translations are proving to be vitally important to fulfilling Shoichi Noma’s mission of advancing good relationships between cultures. With the emergence of dozens of world-class Japanese writers, the translators of Japanese literature have acquired a new significance and a new importance. No longer are they required to simply handle the language like an exotic and precious commodity but they must prepare a writer’s work to compete with literature from around the globe and let others understand the issues at their very heart of the Japanese people.

Indeed, the selection committee’s choice of Murakami’s Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is an apt example of how literature at its very best can span cultural divides to promote mutual understanding of very complicated and important world issues. Written for Japanese to help them understand the devastation of war, it is a rare and timely book that confronts Japan’s experience head on. Ironically, Noma’s idea that books are silent ambassadors, an idea born from agony and defeat, so many years later is helping the world come together towards a unified vision of peace and understanding.


Noma Mutual Understanding Japanese Literature Selection Committee World Peace 
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Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toyo Yoshizaki
    • 1
  1. 1.Kodansha Ltd.TokyoJapan

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