The past couple of years have been great for the inclusion of Japanese literature in the global young adult literature genre. This year, that success continued with the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative which awarded “My Brother’s Husband” their annual Global Literature in Libraries (GLLI) Translated YA Book Prize.
“My Brother’s Husband” is a translated manga focusing on silencing homophobic views in Japan culture. It focuses on a young daughter and her father, along with her father’s deceased brother’s husband. Unfortunately, homophobic views are still common in Japan, which is one of the reasons this award is so significant. Of the novels that focus on homophobia, most only focus on the male perspective, or solely focus on the adult romance genre. The author writes, “I wanted to write a gay-themed story meant for every age group, because gay issues are clearly not limited to adults; they affect everyone in society.” (Kittaka, 2019)
While this award is certainly a landmark for young adult literature in Japan, it more clearly exemplifies the importance of international youth literature organizations, such as the GLLI. The GLLI is an international organization founded upon a guiding principle to raise global awareness and accessibility to international YA literature.
One of the main problems with foreign youth literature availability is the staunch lack of translated novels in libraries at home and around the world. “Somewhere around two percent of books published for young readers in the U.S. are translations.” (Miller-Lachmann, 2016) Without translated novels, how ever can these books work to influence readers? How many readers are missing out on valuable lessons because of a lack of translated novels?
According to the GLLI, one of the primary ways we can address this issue is at its source. They, “intend to do so by facilitating close and direct collaboration between translators and librarians, because we believe translators are uniquely positioned to help librarians provide support and events to engage readers of all ages in a library framework that explores and celebrates literature from around the world.” (Miller-Lachmann, 2016) The GLLI works at multiple levels, from the local community to the global publishing community. By doing this, they are able to encourage and promote translated literature directly to the readers.
In conclusion, international YA literature is an important part of society and plays an instrumental role in the lives of youth around the world. Through reading these novels, children are able to expand their horizons and connect/identify with communities around the world. In an age of ever increasing connectivity between countries, this should be of primary importance. However, many youth around the world are prevented from reading these novels because of the vast lack of translated YA novels. Luckily, organizations such as the GLLI are trying to change this. Through their initiatives, specifically the Translated YA Book Award, they are increasing global awareness to these novels and working to develop and foster interest from young adults around the world.
Kittaka, L. (2019, March 9). ‘My Brother’s Husband’: Young adult literature from Japan attracts a new global audience. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2019/03/09/books/young-adult-literature-japan-attracts-new-global-audience/
Miller-Lachmann, L. (2016, June 8). The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative. Retrieved April 22, 2019, from http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2016/06/08/the-global-literature-in-libraries-initiative/