Kyoto 2009

Jeffrey Angles in 2009. Photo property of Jeffrey Angles. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Occupation Translator, Writer, Professor
Nationality United States
Genres Translation

Jeffrey Angles (ジェフリー・アングルス?) (born 1971) is an American scholar of modern Japanese literature and an award-winning literary translator of modern and contemporary Japanese poetry and fiction. He is an associate professor of Japanese language and Japanese literature at Western Michigan University.


Youth and educationEdit

Angles was born in Columbus, Ohio. When he was 15, he traveled to Japan as a high school exchange student, staying in the small, southwestern Japanese city of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, which represented a turning point in his life. Later he spent several years living in various Japanese cities, including Saitama City, Kobe, and Kyoto.[1]

While a graduate student in Japanese literature at Ohio State University in the mid-1990s', Angles began translating Japanese short stories and poetry, publishing in a wide variety of literary magazines in the United States, Canada, and Australia.[2]


Angles earned his Ph.D. in 2004 with a dissertation about representations of male homoeroticism in the literature of Kaita Murayama and the popular writer Ranpo Edogawa. This is the basis for his book Writing the Love of Boys published in 2011 by University of Minnesota Press, which also includes new research on Taruho Inagaki and Jun’ichi Iwata. Other research involves studies of popular Japanese culture in the 1920s and 1930s, writing about contemporary Japanese poetry, and studying the history of translation in Japan.[2] [3]

He has also contributed a critically acclaimed voice-over commentary to the Criterion Collection’s release of Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1954 film Sansho the Bailiff. [4]


He is particularly interested in translating poetry and modernist texts, since he feels these have been largely overlooked and understudied by academics in the West. He is passionate about translation as a discipline, stating that “without translation, we would be locked within our own cultures, unable to access the vast, overwhelming wealth of the rest of the world’s intellect. By translating literary works, we are making that world heritage available to literally millions of people.” [5]


2009, Angles received the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, administered by the Donald Keene Center for Japanese Studies at Columbia University for his translation of Forest of Eyes: Selected Poems of Chimako Tada.[6] His book of translations, Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi Itō, published in published in 2009 by Action Books, was a finalist in the poetry category of the Best Translated Book Award offered by Three Percent.[7]

Angles has also won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts [8] and the PEN American Center for his translation of the memoirs of the contemporary poet Mutsuo Takahashi. In 2008, Angles was invited to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC to serve as the curator for the literary events in the Japan: Culture+Hyperculture Festival.[9] He has also been interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered about the short story collection Japan: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, which he co-edited with J. Thomas Rimer.[10]

In 2009-2010, Angles was a visiting researcher at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, where he organized a group research project about the history of translation practices in Japan.[3] In 2011, he was a visiting professor in Comparative Literature at the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo.



  • Angles, Jeffrey (2011), Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishōnen Culture in Modernist Japanese Literature, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, ISBN 978-0816669707 



  • Edited with J. Thomas Rimer, Foreword by Donald Richie (2006), Japan: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, Berkeley: Whereabouts Press, ISBN 978-1883513160 
  • Special issue on Hiromi Itō, U.S.-Japan Women’s Journal, vol. 32., Tokyo: Josai International University, 2007, ISSN 1059-9770 

See alsoEdit


  1. "Soga Japan Center webpage at Western Michigan University". Diether H. Haenicke Institute for Global Education, Western Michigan University. 2009. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Jeffrey Angles, Publications and Research Interests". Jeffrey Angles, Western Michigan University. 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Cultural History of Translation in Japan". International Research Center for Japanese Studies. 2009. 
  4. "Sansho the Bailiff (1954)". Criterion Collection. 2010. 
  5. "WMU Japanese professor wins international award for translation work". Western Herald. 13 June 2010. 
  6. "Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature". Donald Keene Center for Japanese Studies. 2010. 
  7. "Best Translated Book Award 2010: The Poetry Finalists". Three Percent. 16 February 2010. 
  8. "PEN American Center Announces the 2008 Translation Fund Grant Recipients". PEN American Center. 2008. 
  9. "JAPAN! culture + hyperculture". Kennedy Center. 2008. 
  10. "Japan (Sans Geishas) in 'Literary Companion'". NPR. 24 September 2006. 

External linksEdit

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