Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Guest post: Lost in Translation

I recently asked if anyone would be interested in guest posting here on In Spring it is the Dawn, on a topic about Japan or Japanese literature. Well, the very kind Tony, of Tony's Reading List has written a great post on the importance of translators for us. Tony is a big fan of Japanese literature and has spent some time in Japan, and has a fabulous sense of humour. Tony also just welcomed a new member to his family, adorable little Hayley.  If you haven't yet I really recommend you stop by his blog, you're sure to be both enlightened and entertained, perhaps at the same time.  But without further ado, here for your reading pleasure...

Lost in Translation - by Tony Malone

Michael Emmerich, Stephen Snyder, Ivan Morris, E. Dale Saunders: these are not names which most people would recognise. However, you, dear reader, an avid follower as you are of Tanabata's blog, should be praising these literary marvels to the skies, for without them your lives would be bereft of joy and laughter. Well, slightly bereft, anyway. You see, the above-mentioned writers are among that legion of unsung heroes who bring the wonders of Japanese literature to the unfortunates among us who have trouble distinguishing kanji from hieroglyphs. They are, of course, translators.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New York: a celebration of books

As you probably already know, I'm in New York this week to attend Book Expo America and Book Blogger Con. If you've found yourself here thanks to BEA and are new to In Spring it is the Dawn, welcome!  I'm so glad you stopped by!  I hope you'll make yourself comfy and have a little look around.  I might suggest taking a look at my About Page to get to know more about me and the blog, and what kind of books you'll usually see mentioned here.  Also, please feel free to contact me, on inspringthedawn at gmail dot com, if you have any questions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

'The Singer's Gun'

by Emily St. John Mandel
Fiction, 2010
Unbridled Books, ebook, 304 p.
Blurb from Unbridled Books:
Everyone Anton Waker grew up with is corrupt. His parents deal in stolen goods and his first career is a partnership venture with his cousin Aria selling forged passports and social security cards to illegal aliens. Anton longs for a less questionable way of living in the world and by his late twenties has reinvented himself as a successful middle manager. Then a routine security check suggests that things are not quite what they appear. And Aria begins blackmailing him to do one last job for her. But the seemingly simple job proves to have profound and unexpected repercussions.

As Anton’s carefully constructed life begins to disintegrate around him, he’s forced to choose between loyalty to his family and his desires for a different kind of life. When everyone is willing to use someone else to escape the past, it is up to Anton, on the island of Ischia, to face the ghosts that travel close behind him.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

'31 Hours'

by Masha Hamilton
Fiction, 2009
Unbridled Books, ebook, 229 p.
From Unbridled Books:
A woman in New York awakens knowing, as deeply as a mother’s blood can know, that her grown son is in danger. She has not heard from him in weeks. His name is Jonas. His girlfriend, Vic, doesn’t know what she has done wrong, but Jonas won’t answer his cell phone. We soon learn that Jonas is isolated in a safe-house apartment in New York City, pondering his conversion to Islam and his experiences training in Pakistan, preparing for the violent action he has been instructed to take in 31 hours. Jonas’s absence from the lives of those who love him causes a cascade of events, and as the novel moves through the streets and subways of New York we come to know intimately the lives of its characters. We also learn to feel deeply the connections and disconnections that occur between young people and their parents not only in this country but in the Middle East as well.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Recent acquisitions

It's been well over two months since I last posted my new book acquisitions, and as I've had a few trickling in here and there, I now have a couple of nice little piles to tell you about. Except for I Am The Messenger, given to me by the lovely Adele of Persnickety Snark, and Hotel Iris which was sent by the publisher, the rest of these books were bought, by me, either online or at the Kinokuniya book shop in Shinjuku (where Adele and I went when we met up a few weekends ago, and again the following week with H for their 10% off English books sale).  So these are the books that have made their way into our apartment over the last while. First, the Japanese authors, or books about Japan, then the others. As usual, I wish I could read them all. Right now.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle' Discussion - Book Three (JLit Read-along)

Japanese Literature 

A day late but welcome to the discussion of Book Three, the third, and last, part of our 3-month read-along, of Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Book Three: The Birdcatcher (October 1984 to December 1985) takes us from page 339 up to the end, page 607 in the Vintage trade paperback, both the US and UK editions.  For more information about the book, please refer to The Wind-up Bird Chronicle - Book One Discussion post.

Please feel free to discuss any of the questions below that interest you, or bring up any other questions or comments that you have about Book Three in particular, or the story as a whole. Anyone is welcome to join in the discussion whether they've been reading along, or have read the book some time previously. However, for anyone who has not yet read to the end of the book, please be aware that the questions and comments may contain spoilers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

'Pillow Book' Friday: Week Eleven (Things that lose by being painted)

Pillow BookThis week we're looking at entries 101 to 120 in the McKinney translation of The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon.  However, as always I've included the corresponding entry numbers in the Morris version too, when possible, for anyone reading along with that version.  For more information on the different translations, please visit the 'Pillow Book' Friday page. Don't hesitate to jump in anytime, whether you've read along from the start, or not.  Or if you're not reading along because you've read the book previously. It's the kind of book that can easily be dipped into here and there, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on Sei's rants and musings.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

'Hotel Iris'

by Yoko Ogawa
Original title: ホテル・アイリス (hoteru airisu)
Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder
Fiction, published in Japan, 1996; English translation, 2010
Picador, trade pb, 164 p.
From the front flap:
In a crumbling seaside hotel on the coast of Japan, quiet seventeen-year-old Mari works the front desk as her mother tends to the off-season customers. When one night they are forced to expel a middle-aged man and a prostitute from their room, Mari finds herself drawn to the man’s voice, in what will become the first gesture of a single long seduction. In spite of her provincial surroundings, and her cool but controlling mother, Mari is a sophisticated observer of human desire, and she sees in this man something she has long been looking for.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

'Little Boy Lost'

by Marghanita Laski
Fiction, 1949 (republished in 2001)
Persephone Books, pb, 225 p.
From the review by Nicholas Lezard in the Guardian*, (quoted in part on the Persephone website):

Hilary Wainwright, poet and intellectual, is enduring a grim wartime Christmas at his stiflingly suburban mother's house when a Frenchman, Pierre, turns up to give him news of the small son that he had to leave in occupied France. After the war, Hilary returns to a blasted and impoverished France in order to trace the child. Pierre thinks he may have found him. So the novel turns on these questions: is the child really Hilary's? And, after five years of having kept the child's possible existence a secret, does Hilary want him? 

These are questions you can take to be as metaphorical as you wish: the novel works perfectly well as straight narrative. It's extraordinarily gripping; it has the page-turning compulsion of a thriller while at the same time being written with perfect clarity and precision.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

'Admit One: My Life in Film'

by Emmett James
Non-Fiction/Memoir, 2010
Fizzypop Productions, hardback, 205 p.
From the dust jacket:
First set in Croyden, South London, in the 1980s, Admit One details how Emmett James escaped the pains of adolescence by going to the cinema. With wry, self-deprecating humor and observation, the author reflects on, obsesses over, and rages about film and its correlation to our pasts. Life soon imitates art, and the narrator find that his true calling is in transiting one side of the screen to the other. He decides to leave England for the only place where he can realize his dream of becoming an actor – America.

We then follow the narrator on his numerous Hollywood adventures, watching as he glides smoothly from forgery to pornography to crashing the Academy Awards under the alias of a nominated screenwriter. At every turn, the films that inspired Emmett James as a child resurface, and they serve to contextualize his humorous collection of stories. He provides unique insights into the fascinating world of film, and eventually stumbles into acting in the highest-grossing movie of all time, Titanic.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Schedule change for 'Silence' by Shusaku Endo (JLit Book Group)

Japanese Literature Book 

I realise this is rather short notice but please note that the Japanese Literature Book Group schedule has changed. Originally we were to begin the discussion of Silence by Shusaku Endo next Monday, the 10th of May. I'm a bit swamped this month though, and knew I would have to rush through the book, so when I mentioned in passing, on my Sunday Salon: New York, New York post, the possibility of pushing the discussion date for Silence to June, the only correspondence I received was in favour of moving the date. So, in keeping with the usual JLit Book Group scheduling of the last Monday of the month, the new discussion date for Silence by Shusaku Endo will be June 28th. I do apologise for any inconvenience. However, I hope that this delay will allow more people to participate, and if you were previously undecided, here is a short blurb to perhaps entice you to read along with us. It should prove to be an interesting read, and an interesting discussion. I hope you'll join us!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Hello Japan! May mini-challenge: Japanese sports and Japanese athletes

Hello Japan!
Hello Japan! is a monthly mini-challenge focusing on Japanese literature and culture. Each month there will be a new task which relates to some aspect of life in Japan. Anyone is welcome to join in any time. You can post about the task on your blog. Or if you don't have a blog, you can leave a comment on the Hello Japan! post for the month. Everyone who completes the task will then be included in the drawing for that month's prize. For more information, just click on the Hello Japan! button above, or if you have any questions please feel free to email me at inspringthedawn AT gmail DOT com.
May's Topic

The Japanese certainly love their baseball, and sumo, to name a couple. And the news is full of reports during any international competition, like the recent Olympics, as the whole country pins their hopes on the Japanese athletes. There are of course many other Japanese traditional sports, and Japanese athletes competing around the world. So the Hello Japan! mini-challenge for May is all about sport, specifically Japanese sports, and Japanese athletes.

Hello Japan! mini-challenge: April link round-up

Hello Japan!

Thanks to everyone who took part in the Hello Japan! mini-challenge last month. April's Hello Japan! task was to celebrate spring, in particular the much-beloved sakura, and I think we had a nice variety of posts, from books to art to sweets. If you haven't yet please visit the links below, they'll surely put you in a spring-like mood!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sunday Salon: New York, New York

I can't believe that it's already May, and that in about 3 weeks I'll be in New York for Book Expo America, and Book Blogger Con! When I threw it out there over dinner a few months back I never expected H to be receptive to the idea. But the flight has been paid for, the hotel booked, Moo cards ordered (and should be here soon), and comfy shoes are on the shopping list for this week. It'll be my first time to New York, and to BEA, so I'm wondering what I'm forgetting and just what I'm getting myself into. I kind of picture myself wandering around lost and overwhelmed at the Javitz Center by myself for 3 days.

I have to admit a little part of me wonders why I had the crazy idea to attend in the first place! I mean I'm not really into marketing my blog, and my blogging has been very sporadic so far this year, to put it mildly.  Plus I don't live in North America, and I'm not even American. The publishers aren't going to want to know me! Of course the books are only part of it, I'm really looking forward to meeting some other book bloggers, so I do hope I'll be able to catch up with them at some point. Did I mention that I'm often shy in large groups and in new situations? But hey, it's the Big Apple, and I can't wait! 

So, if you're going to be in New York, either at BEA and Book Blogger Con, or not, during the week of May 24th, please let me know. I'd love to meet you. And if anyone wouldn't mind me tagging along some of the time at BEA, I'd be very grateful for a BEA Buddy to show me the ropes.  Or any tips of how to get the most out of BEA, or great places to visit in New York, would be very much appreciated.