John Nathan is the Takashima Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He specializes in twentieth century Japanese literature, comparative studies in the novel, Japan, Europe, and America, Japanese cinema, and the theory and practice of translation. His published works include a critical biography of novelist Yukio Mishima, a study of personal relationships in the Sony Corporation, a study of the changing social landscape in postwar Japan, and a memoir. He is also an Emmy award-winning documentary film maker. His translations of Kenzaburo Oe are widely credited with having helped Oe win the Nobel Prize. Before coming to UCSB, he was professor of Japanese literature at Princeton University. He has been a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, and a Guggenheim Fellow. His translation of Natsume Soseki’s final novel Light and Dark will be published in fall 2013 by Columbia University Press.
Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960, moved to Hamburg when she was twenty-two, and then to Berlin in 2006. She writes in both Japanese and German, and has published several books—stories, novels, poems, plays, essays—in both languages. She has received numerous awards for her writing including the Akutagawa Prize, the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, and the Goethe Medal. New Directions publishes her story collections Where Europe Begins (with a Preface by Wim Wenders) and Facing the Bridge, and her novel of Catherine Deneuve obsession, The Naked Eye.