Resisting English

Adam Kirsch at the NYRB:

Minae Mizumura; drawing by Karl Stevens

Most subversive of all, however, is the writer who has the chance to become American and write in the American language but deliberately rejects it. That is the story of Minae Mizumura, a distinguished Japanese novelist who has made her ambivalent feelings about English a central theme of her work. Mizumura was born in Tokyo in 1951, and when she was twelve years old her family moved to the US after her father was transferred to his company’s New York office. She spent the rest of her childhood in a Long Island suburb and then attended Yale, where she went on to earn a graduate degree in French literature. By the time Mizumura finished her studies, she had spent more than half her life in America. Yet she decided to move back to Japan and begin a career as a Japanese novelist, returning only occasionally to the US to teach. She has published eight books of fiction and nonfiction, of which three have been translated into English over the last decade.

more here.