Meeting Hideko Ogawa, the Author of Little Keys and the Red Piano
(This article was originally published on the SCBWI Tokyo Translation Group blog.)
Little Keys and the Red Piano, an ebook translated from Japanese to English by Kazuko and Deborah, was written by Hideko Ogawa. Ms. Ogawa, a woman in her seventies, was active and sharp, passionate about her work, and determined to see it translated into English. Ms. Ogawa wrote Pianyan (Piano + nyan (or “meow”) ) to describe her own move from her hometown of Itogawa in Niigata to Tokyo. It was originally published by Kodansha in 1994. When we met her, she told us that it had been well-received and dramatized by small acting groups throughout the country—it was a story that resonated with adults who had struggled with homesickness layered on the excitement of life in the city.
The three of us decided to meet in Tokyo, and Ms. Ogawa came equipped with the September-October 2011 issue of the journal Nihon Jido Bungaku (Japan Children’s Literature) with a special feature on children’s books in translation, which answered many of the questions we had, especially about how much we could revise a book to make it a more enjoyable read for an English speaking audience. (The article by translator Yumiko Sakuma—which I eventually hope to translate for this blog—was especially good.) Ms. Ogawa, an editor of the journal, was prepared to accept our proposed revisions in order to make good work of the translation.
Not only that, but she was busy taking photographs to illustrate the ebook version, promising a colorful final product that would give readers a good look at Tokyo. She eventually provided maps of Japan and of Shibuya in Tokyo, where much of the book takes place, and accepted links for interested readers to find out more. Little Keys and the Red Piano is now available on Kindle books due in great part to the author’s enthusiasm and unfailing cooperation.
You do not need to buy a Kindle reader to read Kindle books. To download a free reader for ebooks for your computer, tablet or smartphone, visit this page on Amazon.co.jp.