A very good piece about translator Juliet Carpenter:
Carpenter isn't a stickler for literal meaning. She likens translation to acting, in that translators take words written by someone else and bring them to life in a different form, based on the translator's own knowledge and experience.
Certainly, inherent differences in Japanese and English writing conventions can complicate the translator's task, such as the penchant in Japanese for vagueness and sentimentality, or the contrast between the Western love of irony and the value Japanese assign to being sunao, or sincerity. "You don't have to translate every polite phrase. You don't want to make conversation sound exotic to the Western ear. It should seem to be normal people talking."
I have plans to look at more of Kobo Abe's stuff (she translated his Secret Rendezvous) in the wake of screening the movie version of The Face of Another, starring none other than acting chameleon Tatsuya Nakadai.