Posts featuring Nao-cola Yamazaki

Nao-cola Yamazaki’s “The Beginning of the Long End”

An excerpt from the novel

Nao-cola Yamazaki’s first published work, 2004’s Don’t Laugh At Other People’s Sex, won the Bungei Award, was adapted into a major motion picture, and was nominated for the Akutagwa Award, a prestigious honor given annually to a promising Japanese writer. “I believe that the mission of contemporary Japanese writers is to express ambiguity,” she says, as an introduction to the following piece, an excerpt from her novel The Beginning of the Long End. Yamazaki was a participant in the 2013  Writers Omi at Ledig House Translation Lab, along with the translator of this piece, Takami Nieda. Yamazaki, who has in the past been skeptical that her work would be translatable, found her views altered by her time at Ledig. “The Japanese have always had a tendency to celebrate ambiguity as a virtue,” she writes, and “the Japanese language itself seems to be suited for expressing ambiguity… For example, it is possible to construct sentences without a subject, there are many passive expressions, and sentences can be written without specifying an object. These are some of the characteristics of Japanese that differ from English and perhaps many other languages.” Though she recognizes how her work takes advantage of the nuances of her native tongue, Yamazaki completed her stint at Writers Omi believing that a translation that conveyed her fascination with vagueness would maintain some of its distinct qualities, and “perhaps those reading the translation might enjoy those elements as a kind of ‘Japaneseness.’”