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Blog Archive March 2006

Hong Kong Literary Scene: New Literary Price

The Hong Kong Literary scene now registers on the international literary radar of publishers, editors and agents according to the International Herald Tribute.

A new international literary prize has been announced for unpublished English language works and the first award will be made in the autumn of 2007. Man Investments (they fund the Booker Prize) are the financial muscle behind the new award.

Nury Vittachi, a journalist and novelist, is quoted as saying, “Before the whole food chain was missing. We didn’t have literary agents, literary magazines, literary editors, or a literary festival. Now the pieces of the chain are coming together. The Man literary prize was the last piece of the puzzle.”

Hong Kong is riding the wave of worldwide interest in Chinese literature. They have offices of major UK publishers in Hong Kong and are actively looking to find those books, which will translate well for a larger market.

Posted: 3/31/2006 3:56:02 AM 

 

STEAMY EAST: Tracking the literature of Asia

One of the best websites devoted to books set in Asia is Steamy East. Behind the website are two expats, Mark Schreiber and William Wetherall. The content is divided: race, perils, places, sex, exotic, and genres. I found the website contents provides a good perceptive on the literature, writers, pitfalls, and refreshing candor. The Steamy East is a super genre consisting of many sub-genres, including action, adventure, erotica, fantasy, horror, mystery, thrillers, war, romance, historical and crime novels. Between Mark and William they have 5,000 English novels in their collection of Asian literature. Both are long-term Japan residents, and serious book collectors, reviewers, and commentators on novels set in the East.

A number of the categories promise more content is forthcoming.

In the section on Exotica, you will find William Wetherall’s take on the importance of getting the details of a culture correct. In other words, in fiction, accuracy does matter.

“Steamy East stories are full of descriptions of places and peoples the reader, and often the writer, has never been to or seen. Because they are fiction, they should be read as though ever word were a lie intended merely to entertain. Many stories, though, are also told to educate or even enlighten. In addition to being an entertainer, the writer is also some mixture of tour guide, teacher, professor, counselor, philosopher, politician, publicist, philosopher, brain washer and pimp.”

My favorite section is Who’s Who where many authors are listed along with their books. The section is heavily weighed toward settings in Japan and China. The authors mentioned include: contemporary authors such as Peter May, Christopher West, Li Yan, Margaret Campbell, and Janwillem van de Wetering. Authors from the past include, Richard Mason, Harry Stephen Keeler, and Onoto Watanna.

For anyone interested in exploring the range of literature in Asia, Steamy East is a must website and will introduce you to many books by expats living in this part of the world.

Posted: 3/30/2006 12:00:13 AM 

 

34th National Book Fair and 4th Bangkok International Book Fair

Today at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, these two book fairs open. 390 Thai and international publishers are scheduled to attend. Publishers from 11 countries will participate in the international section. Britain is named the country of the year. Most publishers offer books at discount during these fairs. The convention centre is normally packed with people, and this weekend I would expect many thousands to attend. If Siam Paragon pulls down the shutters to avoid the demonstrations held outside, shopper may decide it is time to buy a good book.

Posted: 3/29/2006 11:31:37 AM 

 

Reading List for the Prime Minister

The Bangkok Post today has an article about a Thai academic who has come up with a required list of books that Caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra should read. Assoc Prof Carina Chotirawe who has made the list is a lecturer in English literature at Chulalongkorn University. In the past the prime minister has recommended books to the public. Most of the recommendations according to Professor Carina fall into the category of how to do business books. Her list seeks to expand the Prime Minister’s reading horizon by including plays and novels.

1) 1984 by George Orwell. It examines a society whose citizens are controlled by a dictatorial regime _ Big Brother. Big Brother keeps citizens under tight control and docile by feeding them movies, gambling and lotteries.

2) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a story of a controlled state which creates wealth and efficiency by using artificial reproduction to produce model citizens.

''This state is similar to one of our neighbouring countries,'' Ms Carina said.

3) The Tragedy of Dr Faustus, a play by English poet Christopher Marlowe about an able and ambitious man who sells his soul to the devil to gain power, but then faces a tragic end.

4) The Emperor's New Clothes, a classic fairy tale by Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson, about an emperor who lacks grace, but is flattered by his advisers.

5) All My Sons by US playwright Arthur Miller, which examines morality and profiteering in a story about a factory owner who sells faulty airplane spare parts and later is tried in court with his honest and idealist son as the judge.

6) Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, which examines the tragic fate of a megalomaniac ruler.

''Macbeth is an arrogant leader but he still has a chance to be a better man if he weds a nice and kind lady. Unfortunately, Lady Macbeth is ruthless and would go to any length to achieve power and save her husband,'' Ms Carina said, to applause and cheers from seminar participants.

7) Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelly, an English poet. It portrays arrogance and transient power through a sonnet describing the shattered statue of an arrogant ruler.

8) A Bend in the River by V.S Naipaul, about the rise and fall of a third-world hero in a corrupt African country.

9) A Christmas Carol by British writer Charles Dickens. Scrooge is an unhappy, cruel and wealthy old man who becomes a better person after being haunted by four ghosts.

10) Don Quixote by Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. This classic features idealist Don Quixote, who fights for principle despite the odds against him.”

Posted: 3/29/2006 11:15:48 AM 

 

Thai edition of Spirit House

On Wednesday 29th March Siam Inter will release the Thai edition of Spirit House. This is the third Vincent Calvino novel to be published in the Thai language, and the first one published by my new publisher Siam Inter. You will notice the spirit house on the front cover is the Erawan Shrine prior to the destruction of the statue of Brahma. There are few moments of celebration for any author. One of those moments is when a new book is finally released.

Posted: 3/28/2006 10:58:04 AM 

 

The Japanese Edgar Allan Poe

One of the hidden treasures of Japanese literature is found in the 67 novels and 76 short stories by Edogawa Rampo. Most of his novels and short stories have not been translated into English.

Kurodahan Press has released The Black Lizard and Beast in the Shadows

A review of The Black Lizard and Beast in the Shadows, the Daily Yomiuri draws comparisons with Stephen King and Danielle Steele as well as Edgar Allan Poe. There is also an introduction by Mark Schreiber, long-time Japan resident and author. Mark Schreiber is a collector and reviewer of mystery and adventure fiction set in Asia, or involving Asian characters in the West. In Schreiber¹s introduction, he explains how Edogawa Rampo got his start as a translator of English crime fiction and went on to become the originator of Western-style crime stories in the Japanese language.

The Daily Yomiuri review goes on to say:

“The Black Lizard is a pulpy noir pleasure in which a haughty, beautiful villainess matches wits with a humble yet brilliant sleuth. Ideally, this story should be read in a cheap hotel room with cigarette smoke hanging in the air, a neon sign flickering just outside the half-open window, and melancholy saxophone music drifting in from the distance.

“Beast in the Shadows should be read at Starbucks. If this story had been first published today rather than in 1928, "postmodern" would be the only word for it. It's an absurd, ironic and self-referential hall of mirrors in which the first-person protagonist is a novelist-cum-detective trying to prevent a murder by a novelist-turned-criminal who seems to be acting out scenes from his own book about yet another a novelist-turned-criminal. The version of the story we are reading is presented in the form of notes the narrator has written to himself in case, in the future, he ever decides to base a novel on his weird experience. Beast is the much darker of the two stories, and it has a jaw-dropper of an ending.”

Posted: 3/27/2006 2:42:18 AM 

 

Erawan Shrine: One Day Later – Mental illness and politicians

According to AP, Thai police are investigating to determine whether Thanakorn Pakdeepol, aged 27 years old, who used a hammer to destroy the statue of Brahma, had links to extreme Muslim groups. Did he act alone or did someone put him up to the act of vandalism, which cost him his life?

The Bangkok Post covered the story of the visit to the shrine by Caretaker Prime Thaksin Shinawatra and Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin. It did provide a good photo op for both politicians.

The Than Tao Mahaprom Foundation will pay the estimated cost of Baht 20M to have the Fine Arts Department create a replacement statue, which will incorporate shattered fragments from the destroyed original statue. The plan is to have the new statue in place within two months.

The Bangkok Governor was quoted as saying, that “he had ordered city-run hospitals to open more counselling units to help people with mental illnesses.” Taking away hammers might be a good strart.

Some readers are confused about the nature of the Erawan Shrine. This is not a Buddhist srhine. The statue of the deity is not based on Buddhism. The statue represented a Hindu God called Brahma. The mixture of Hindu and animalistic beliefs is often confusing for foreigners who believe they are part of Buddhism.

Posted: 3/23/2006 2:43:46 AM 

 

Destruction of Hindu deity at Erawan Shrine

The big news today was the attack on Tuesday 21 March 2006 on Erawan Shrine located at the Rajprasong intersection. A Thai man aged 27 years old with a history of mental history, entered the popular shrine and used a hammer to smash the statue of the Hindu deity, Brahma. Shortly after the act of vandalism, Thanakorn Pakdeepol was beaten to death by two of the worshippers at the shrine. The two men, described as garbage collectors, were arrested and charged with second-degree murder. In the Nation, an article ran predicting that the closing the shrine until a new statue can be made could costs Thailand dearly, predicting one million tourists would be lost. The government has responded for a quick restoration of the famous deity, promising to have the restored statue in two months. Fragments of the original statue will be used to make the new one.

The Nation also reported on the “bad omen” nature of this destruction, suggesting it is connected with “the Thaksin Era, characterized by unfettered capitalism and greedy economic growth.”

There is a great deal of international coverage to the destruction. With some describing the killing of Thanakorn Pakdeepol as a lynching

Erawan Shrine is a major setting for the first Calvino novel, Spirit House. The Bangkok-based publisher, Siam Inter announced today that it would released its Thai edition version of Spirit House by the end of March. Spirit House has also be translated into Chinese, German, and Japanese. Early this year, a German documentary film crew were in Bangkok and filmed me at Erawan Shrine, and a couple of months later a French film crew from Quebec also film a sequence about the Calvino novels at the shrine.

Posted: 3/22/2006 4:29:45 AM 

 

PUBLISHING LITERARY FICTION IN AN AGE OF LITE READING

Publisher’s Lunch has an item about the diminishing market for fiction in Australia. What is happening in Australia is not isolated. It is a worldwide phenomenon: “The Australian is concerned about "three certainties about Australian fiction today: fewer books are being published, sales are falling and shelf-lives are shorter." The focus of their case study is novelist Brian Castro, whose seventh novel SHANGHAI DANCING was turned down by a number of large publishers before being issues by independent house Giramondo. ("Within months, Castro had trumped respected rivals - including Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee - to take out the main fiction prizes in the NSW and Victorian premiers' literary awards.")”

Posted: 3/21/2006 10:32:29 AM 

 

HBO Series: Big Love (the inside of polygamy)

At Slate, Daphne Merkin asks question about polygamy as the basis of an HBO series in Boy meets Girl, Then more Girls:

“The co-writers of Big Love—Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer*—have tried, in their own words, to be "nonjudgmental and humane" about the institution of polygamy, insisting that it is an "ideal template to look at marriage and family." Can they possibly mean this? …For me, the really disturbing aspect of the series is not that it soft-pedals the lifestyle's darker sides—its reliance on a constant supply of young women, its tolerance of incest and pedophilia under cover of God's law, its exiling of younger men who might compete with the older males of the community for wives. It's that the show's creators—who happen to be a gay couple—have written a series that wears its values on its sleeve, albeit unwittingly, and those values are, in a word, heterophobic.”

Posted: 3/20/2006 2:08:04 AM 

 

A Writer’s Sex Life

You have to wonder how commentators on well-known authors jazz up their copy with statements such as this: “Sex, specifically sex with women far younger than he, is the only thing that makes Houellebecq (and his surrogates) the least bit happy, if happiness it be. (The Times profile quoted above claims that Houellebecq sleeps with about two dozen women per year, with his wife’s enthusiastic approval.)” The New Criterion. And in the same league of personal attacks, “The man seems to have limited his interactions with women to bars, package resorts, and sex clubs. This is, if true, more or less like basing one’s judgment of mankind on life in a whorehouse.”

Houellbecq’s The Platform is largely set in Thailand. But Stephan Beck dismisses Houellbecq not on literary grounds. Instead his sex life and attitude toward sex is sufficient to deprive him of any meaningful voice.

My favourite Houellbecq quote came when he was tried in Paris for inciting hatred against Muslims, and he was asked whether he’d ever read the French Criminal Code. Houellbecq replied that he hadn’t read it: “It is excessively long,” he said, “and I suspect that there are many boring passages.” Ultimately he was acquitted of the charges. The same quote could easily be said about Stephan Beck’s hatchet job on Houellbecq.

Posted: 3/17/2006 2:09:57 AM 

 

Colin Cotterill Wins The Dilys Award

The winner of the 2006 Dilys award has been awarded to the novel Thirty three Teeth by Colin Cotterill.

This is an important award. The Dilys Award is selected by independent bookstore owners. These are the people who read and love books. They see many titles every year. When they find a title they really love, it is good to let the rest of the world know about it. In 2005 the Dilys Award was won by Jeff Lindsay for Darkly Dreaming Dexter.

Congrats to Colin for bringing this distinguished award to Chiang Mai.

Posted: 3/17/2006 9:32:42 AM 

 

Putting “Selflish” into a book Title: How to make a best seller

Getting the title of a book right is never easy. The perfect title makes picking up the book irresistible. Publishers shy away from titles that are negative. Or that is the conventional wisdom.

Thirty years ago Richard Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene was published. One publisher didn’t like the word “selfish” advising the author it was a downer and suggested “immoral” gene instead. The author admits another good title would have been the “cooperative” gene.

In the thirty years since it was published, The Selfish Gene has had an impact on the life of readers. Sometimes causing depression.

Dawkin is quoted in The Times, “A teacher reproachfully wrote that a pupil had come to him in tears after reading the same book, because it had persuaded her that life was empty and purposeless. But if something is true, no amount of wishful thinking can undo it. As I went on to write, ‘Presumably there is indeed no purpose in the ultimate fate of the cosmos, but do any of us really tie our life’s hopes to the ultimate fate of the cosmos anyway? Of course we don’t; not if we are sane. Our lives are ruled by all sorts of closer, warmer, human ambitions and perceptions. To accuse science of robbing life of the warmth that makes it worth living is so preposterously mistaken, so diametrically opposite to my own feelings and those of most working scientists, I am almost driven to the despair of which I am wrongly suspected.’”

I wonder what Dawkin’s publisher would have made of the title of my novel A Killing Smile? An Immortal Smile or A Cooperative Smile would have failed to capture the narrative of the book.

Posted: 3/16/2006 10:10:07 AM 

 

Demonstrators again marching Bangkok

May, 1992: I went to Sanam Luang that May. 80,000 people had gathered to bring down the government. Police and soldiers surrounded the area. Barbed-wire barricades across key streets. The violence that swiftly followed has never been fully examined. I remember the pickups with gunmen in the back racing down Asoke. I heard gun shots in the night. The police kiosk throughout the Sukhumvit Road area had been burnt out.

In the third novel of the Land of Smiles trilogy, A Haunting Smile, the narrative is driven by the events of May 1992. The novel recounts the nature and scope of the violent social changes that erupted that May. A Haunting Smile spotlights the social tensions that came to the surface in 1992 and once again have bubbled to the top in 2006. And I would like to think that A Haunting Smile is as relevant today as when it was published in 1993.

Posted: 3/15/2006 10:14:46 AM 

 

Freedom of Speech includes the Right to Ridicule

When I was a student at Oxford, I sat in on lectures by Professor Ronald Dworkin. He is the foremost legal philosopher in the English-speaking world.

In a recent article titled the Right to Ridicule in the New York Review of Books, Professor Dworkin wrote:

“Free speech is a condition of legitimate government. Laws and policies are not legitimate unless they have been adopted through a democratic process, and a process is not democratic if government has prevented anyone from expressing his convictions about what those laws and policies should be.”

And further, he says, “So in a democracy no one, however powerful or impotent, can have a right not to be insulted or offended. That principle is of particular importance in a nation that strives for racial and ethnic fairness.”

Posted: 3/14/2006 9:56:58 AM 

 

Vanishing Book Readers

This from the recent issue of U.S NEWS: “Long before the National Endowment for the Arts released its 2004 report "Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America," book publishers had become keenly aware of growing competition from the expanding universe of Internet, computer, and video-based leisure enthrallments. But the survey sounded a public alarm: Fewer than half of all American adults now read "literature" (loosely defined as fiction or poetry). The numbers showed a 10 percent decline in literary readers for all age groups from 1982 to 2002 and a whopping 28 percent decrease in young adults ages 18 to 24. In total, the study calculated, 20 million potential readers had been lost. "Never in my career have I seen a report where there is no good news," NEA Chairman Dana Gioia declared at the time.”

Posted: 3/13/2006 5:01:23 AM 

 

Second Hand Bookshops in Chiang Mai

It seems anytime there is a convergence of three like things in Thailand, then that place becomes a “hub”. The latest candidate for hub status is Chiang Mai for its second hand bookshops.

The Thursday 9 March 2006 edition of Thai Day in an article titled “Stacking Up North,” says, “the best place to buy used English and other foreign language used books in Southeast Asia is Chiang Mai.” Unfortunately there is no link to this article on the Thai Day website. At least I couldn’t find it.

The three places to visit are: The Lost Book Shop, 34/3 Ratchamanka Road; Backstreet Books, 2/8 Chang Moi Kao Road, and Gecko Books, 2/6 Chang Moi Kao Road.

The Lost Book Shop is ten years old, and is a Thai/American joint venture. The owners Patrick Monnin and Narumol Pochanasrichai claim to understand the book needs of backpackers.

Backstreet Books is run by an Irishman named George O’Brien, who says Thais make up 15% of the customers for his store. O’Brien explains how he runs his business, “He personally evaluates each book and most go through a preparation stage before they’ve put on the shelf, which includes erasing markings, straightening pages, pressing books under weights to straighten the spines and make them tighter, and finally wrapping most books in plastic to preserve their quality.”

Gecko Books is run by American-born George Goldberg whose dream was to open a second hand bookstore. His three stores carry 60,000 books.



There has been an on going discussion in the book business about how the second hand book market has threatened the paperback publishing print runs. In pre-Internet days, after the hardback edition came out, a year later the paperback edition would appear, and how little competition as the hardback editions had ended its run. Of course, hardback editions could be found in second hand bookstores. But you had to find them and pre-ebay that wasn’t easy. Now the hardback editions are everywhere for sale at a fraction of the price of the paperback edition. One click away.

The instant access and cheap pricing offered by the Internet not only hurts the author and publishers, ultimately it means that second hand bookshops are on the endangered list. The owners have to invest in a large inventory. They never know for certain whether some of the books they’ve paid for simply won’t sell. The online guys keep the inventory and price to a minimum. That makes the second hand bookstores vulnerable. Whether such stores will be around in ten to twenty years is an open question.

Meanwhile, these three second hand bookshops in Chiang Mai continue the tradition of high quality second hand books at a reasonable price. If you find yourself in Chiang Mai, and buy a book or two from these stores.

Posted: 3/9/2006 3:00:37 AM 

 

The Uncertainty Principle of Physics: Writing Books and Investing in Shares

Hiesenberg discovered the uncertainty principle rest on the wave-particle duality of nature. In effect the uncertainty principle states the relationship between position and momentum of a subatomic particle. Until measurement is made of either the position or the momentum, both position and momentum are indeterminate. And you can’t measure both position and momentum. You choose the position of the subatomic particle or its speed, but you can’t measure both. By choosing one measurement what was indeterminate becomes fixed.

Writers can learn a great deal from Hiesenberg’s insight in the fundamental laws of nature. The same uncertainty principle applies to writing. An idea inside your brain remains indeterminate. An idea is like a wave. It has speed and velocity. They drift in and out of consciousness. But until you find a way to express that idea in narrative form, it will remain indeterminate. A book is the particle part of the physics of writing. You need to fix the position of your ideas in words, on a page, and only then can you say that your idea is determinate. A lot of people go through life, processing wave after wave of thought. None of these waves ever have any position. They are always in motion. If you wish to write, then you need to find a way to convert the waves of thought into the particle of written language. That only happens if you take the step to take a position.

How many writers have heard friends, relatives, colleagues say they have a great idea for a book. Sometimes they will approach you and suggest that you collaborate on the book. They promise to give you the idea, and all that you have to do is write it down. In the reality of book writing, ideas are often the easy part. The mental sky of any age is filled with thick, moving clouds of ideas. Everyone has an idea for a book. Or so it seems. But it is the execution of the ideas, positioning them into an effective, compelling narrative, which is what makes writing so difficult and competitive.

It is all not that different for investors in various markets. You buy 1,000 shares of Microsoft. Each day you check the stock price and assume that is the value of your investment. Unless you have sold at that price on that day, the price may be fixed, but the value of your shares remain indeterminate. The only way to change a wave into a particle, in the context of the stock market, is to sell the shares. Then you can measure your position i.e., your wealth. To hear someone say what they are “worth on paper” suggests certainty when indeed paper wealth is an indeterminate number.

Posted: 3/8/2006 4:37:26 AM 

 

London Book Fair News

As an author whose literary agents attended the London Book Fair (March 5-7) this year, I have an interest in learning more about the nature of this book fair. In the past, I’ve been to the Frankfurt Book Fair. Every author should visit Frankfurt once. There will be no greater lesson in humility.

It is a sobering experience, a humbling one, too, as you walk through many kilometers of booths stacked with books, and realize this is the output for one year. And not every publisher attends Frankfurt.

For authors, the Frankfurt Book Fair is a reality check. The same is true for the London Book Fair.

The London Book Fair appears to be catching up with the Frankfurt Book Fair in the area of selling rights to books.

The New York Times has noted “But book fairs are still about selling rights, and the London fair is beginning to rival the pre-eminent Frankfurt fair, in October. Diane Spivey, rights and contracts director of the Time Warner Book Group, which was recently acquired by Lagardère, the French media and defense conglomerate, said: ‘We sell perhaps 40 percent of rights in London compared to 60 percent in Frankfurt, but five years ago London was 10 percent.”

Posted: 3/7/2006 2:53:38 AM 

 

Bangkok World Book Capital 2008

The Thai Publishing and Bookselling Association had a stand at this London Book Fair (March 5-7). They were in London under the support of the Depart of Export Promotion.

Thanachai Santchaikul, President of PUBAT, said:
“We are working with the Governor of Bangkok and the Government to drive Bangkok’s efforts to become World Book Capital 2008. This is being made because all those involved are cooperating in a strong programme of ideas to enhance reading among the Thai people. We also have freedom to express ideas, to publish and to distribute publications.”

Some interesting statistics:

-The value of trade book sales increased 12% in 2005
-11,680 titles were published in Thailand in 2004
-12.65% of the titles published in 2004 were translations – a 38% increase over the previous year
-Fiction accounted for 62% of the translated titles

Posted: 3/7/2006 2:50:02 AM 

 

The Translator

Here’s a startling fact: in 2004 when 195,000 books were published in the United States only 891 on that number were translations of adult literature. In other words, translations aren’t a big part of the publishing business in America. In non-English speaking countries, translations from English into the local language is common. The books sell. The translated books appear on the bestseller lists and win prizes in Germany, France, Spain, and Italy.

The New Observer has it right: “Translators are like priests who mediate our relationship with the literary gods. We depend on them even as we wish for direct contact.”

My German translator Peter Friedlich turned Zero Hour in Phnom Penh into an award-winning book in Germany. Finding the right translator is plain hard and when such a person is discovered, it is a lifetime bond between author and translator. The translator provides not just access but recreates the language and images seamlessly into another language. That is art.

Posted: 3/6/2006 6:00:27 AM 

 

Getting the Cultural Details right

Any author writing about another culture is aware that many ordinary day-to-day rituals and habits often rest on invisible premises that local instinctively share. Unless the writer has become emerged in the culture; attending wedding, funerals, village fairs, schools, police stations, prisons, markets, and private homes, the chances of failing to see a significant detail can be lost. A good example is Karin Muller’s Japanland : A Year in Search of Wa The author is an early 30s documentary filmmaker who spent one year in Japan. The book is the record of her experience.

Publisher’s Weekly said of the book, “A keen listener, Muller lets an ensemble of voices speak, among them a swordmaker and a crab fisherman. She's also a participatory learner, taking on tasks like harvesting rice. The diverse activities and excursions to far-flung places make this a fine travel memoir, but it's the backbone of Muller's voyage that gives her book resonance and richness.”

In other words, though in Japan for a short period, Muller did manage to process an incredible number of obscure details about Japanese life, culture, and history. The cultural error – and a substantial one – is the cover chosen by the publisher shows a woman with the kimono folded right over left. That may not mean much to most Western readers. But only a corpse dressed for burial wears the kimono right over left. For a Japanese reader, the image would have been immediate and direct. The woman on the cover is dead!

If there is a lesson to be learnt, publishers should work with the hard to make certain novels and non-fiction with foreign settings are not sending the wrong message.

Posted: 3/6/2006 3:34:18 AM 

 

 

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