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Short Story Month, Day 6: Motojirō Kajii, translated by David Boyd


Photo of author Motojirō Kajii
Motojirō Kajii

"Under the Cherry Trees" by Motojirō Kajii, translated by David Boyd

One of my closest friends translated this story, and I'm not including his photo with Kajii's because I know that he'd prefer I didn't. Being friends with a translator has given me an interesting perspective of writing. When David is in town, we often spend time working at a nearby coffee shop (the "Coffice," as we call it), so I've seen him work meticulously to find the right word that conveys not only the right meaning but the right tone, which makes him just as much a craftsman as I am with my original work.


While I've read several of the stories David has translated, I picked this version of one of Kajii's most famous stories because I've seen someone else's translation of the same work, so I can see the difference. This version is creepier and makes the reader question the narrator's sanity, while the other version comes off more lyrical and verbose in an effort to beautify the language for an English audience. I like that David translated this with more of an emphasis not only on the strange but the accessible. There's no air of pretension in this, no exoticism, and I appreciate that.

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