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The latest issue of Monkey, a magazine for English translations of Japanese literature, has a fascinating feature where literary translators discuss words, phrases or grammatical nuances they find untranslatable. It’s an interesting insight into the process by which a work of art created in one context can be transferred to another.

For Daniel Joseph, translator of Ko Machida’s explosive novella “Rip It Up” (published in Japanese as “Kiregire”), unpicking the book one word at a time would be a fool’s errand. Machida’s work has a reputation for being notoriously difficult to translate, which explains why so few of his books have made it into English so far.

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