In the news: Reading beyond sushi into the world of Japan

By Levi Wright, The Daily Iowan

This week marks the largest Japanese literary event to take place at the University of Iowa and in Lit City. “A Half-Century of Japanese Writers in Iowa,” funded by a Japan Foundation Institutional Support Grant, kicks off today with an opening reception and lectures on Kenji Nakagami, an influential Japanese writer. It will end on Thursday with a translation workshop.

Throughout the week, seven writers will get a chance to perform, read, and have roundtable discussions about their work.

The event is the beginning of a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the International Writing Program.

“[The International Writing Program] expands literary horizons,” IWP Director Christopher Merrill said. “It gives us a chance to find out about places we only occasionally read about, it makes the world at once more familiar and more strange.”

IWP has brought writers from all over the world to Iowa City, spreading cultural awareness on both sides. Iowa writers learn from foreign writers, while foreign writers learn from Iowans and take what they pick up with them when they leave.

“Our cultures aren’t actually separate, they’re related to each other, they’re next to each other, they’re integrating into one another,” IWP Associate Director Hugh Ferrer said. “So we have to do our best to comprehend how others comprehend.”

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