Transnational Series: Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda and Allison Markin Powell

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Transnational Series: Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda and Allison Markin Powell

The Transnational Series hosts translators Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda and Allison Markin Powell to celebrate the release of their new translation.

By Brookline Booksmith

When and where

Date and time

Starts on Wednesday, July 19 · 7pm EDT


Brookline Booksmith 279 Harvard Street Brookline, MA 02446

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About this event

  • 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Mobile eTicket

Join the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith for an in-store event with translators Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda and Allison Markin Powell to discuss and celebrate the release of their new translation of Kappa by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. They will be in conversation with translator and scholar Anna Zielinska-Elliott.

Akutagawa’s magical final work is a short novel with a magic spell all its own—poignant, fantastical, wry, melancholic, and witty.

The Kappa is a creature from Japanese folklore known for dragging unwary toddlers to their deaths in rivers: a scaly, child-sized creature, looking something like a frog, but with a sharp, pointed beak and an oval-shaped saucer on top of its head, which hardens with age.

Akutagawa’s Kappa is narrated by Patient No. 23, a madman in a lunatic asylum: he recounts how, while out hiking in Kamikochi, he spots a Kappa. He decides to chase it and, like Alice pursuing the White Rabbit, he tumbles down a hole, out of the human world and into the realm of the Kappas. There he is well looked after, in fact almost made a pet of: as a human, he is a novelty. He makes friends and spends his time learning about their world, exploring the seemingly ridiculous ways of the Kappa, but noting many—not always flattering—parallels to Japanese mores regarding morality, legal justice, economics, and sex. Alas, when the patient eventually returns to the human world, he becomes disgusted by humanity and, like Gulliver missing the Houyhnhnms, he begins to pine for his old friends the Kappas, rather as if he has been forced to take leave of Toad of Toad Hall…

Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda is a Japanese to English literary translator based in New York City. Born in Tokyo, raised in Texas, she received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. She is an active member of the ALTA BIPOC Translators' Caucus, and a two-time graduate of the British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT) Summer School. Her work is forthcoming from New Directions, Knopf, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG) in 2023-2024.

Allison Markin Powell is a literary translator, editor, and publishing consultant. She received the 2020 PEN Translation Prize for her translation of Hiromi Kawakami’s The Ten Loves of Nishino. Her other translations and cotranslations include works by Osamu Dazai, Kaoru Takamura, and Kanako Nishi. She maintains the database Japanese Literature in English, and is a founding member of the collectives Cedilla & Co. and Strong Women, Soft Power.

Moderator Anna Zielinska-Elliott is a translator of modern Japanese literature into Polish. Best known for her translations of Haruki Murakami, she has also translated Mishima Yukio, Yoshimoto Banana, Tanizaki Jun’ichiro, and Mizumura Minae. She is the author of a Polish-language monograph on gender in Murakami, a literary guidebook to Murakami’s Tokyo, and several articles on European translation practices relating to contemporary Japanese fiction and Japanese translations of Polish fiction. Zielinska-Elliott teaches Japanese language, literature, and translation studies at Boston University and is Director of the MFA Program in Literary Translation.

The Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith

The Transnational Series focuses on stories of migration, the intersection of politics & literature, and works in translation and is supported by the independent bookstore Brookline Booksmith. Subscribe to the Transnational Series newsletter for information on upcoming events, book recommendations, and more.

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Barring technical difficulty, this event will be livestreamed to our store YouTube channel.

Event Accesibility

This event will take place at street level. If possible, the event will be livestreamed to YouTube. ASL interpretation may be provided (based on the availability of interpreters) but must be requested at least 2 weeks in advance of the event. Seats are limited. Please email us at as soon as possible if you require ASL interpretation, guaranteed seating, or other accommodations. We will do our best to serve your needs!


Please note that any Brookline Booksmith in-person event may be canceled by the bookstore, publisher, or author based on concerns about health and safety around the time of the event. Wherever possible, any in-person appearance canceled due to COVID will be moved to the Brookline Booksmith Zoom as a Webinar at the same date and time, and all tickets & registrations will be transferred to the online event. Book signing details may change. Refunds may be requested in the case of a virtual pivot or event cancelation.

About the organizer