Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ten Little Indians

「ナンバーワンにならなくてもいい もともと特別なオンリーワン」 
「世界に一つだけの花」 (SMAP) 

"You don’t need to become number one 
You’re special, the only one of you, to begin with
"A flower of which there is only one in this world" (SMAP)

Yes, I know I haven't been really active lately. I haven't really read any books even lately; it's been a bit busy with papers and other reports, though the worst is over now. And with that, I mean that this whole weekend was spent on writing. Oh well, just one last week before winter break starts...

And as I haven't read anything these three weeks, I figured I would post something that should interest fans of the mystery genre all over the world, but still wouldn't involve me having to read. People all over the world like to list things. Especially at the end or the beginning of the year. Which is also true of mystery fans. There are probably countless of lists out there. One of the more famous Japanese lists of mystery novels is the Tozai Mystery Best 100, a list originally published in 1985 by Weekly Bunshun consisting of two lists of all-time best mystery novels (Japanese novels, and foreign novels), voted by mystery writers, critics and other mystery-related persons and institutions.

And I had already sorta refered to it in this post, but a new Tozai Mystery Best 100 was compiled this year. The Kyoto University Mystery Club was also one of the institutions asked to vote, which resulted in a long discussion and a lot of politics and strategic voting at the club when we compiled our list (i.e, Ellery Queen ended up very low at our list, because the seniors figured that other people would vote for Queen anyway).  Anyway, I thought it might be interesting for both fans of Japanese mystery novels, as well as people not specifically focusing on Japanese novels to see what classics made it (or didn't!) made it into the top ten.

National (Japanese) Top Ten:

1. Gokumontou ("Prison Gate Island") (Yokomizo Seishi) 
2. Kyomu he no Kumotsu ("Offerings to Nothing") (Nakai Hideo) 
3. Senseijutsu Satsujin Jiken ("The Astrology Murder Case") (Shimada Souji) 
4. Dogura Magura (Yumeno Kyuusaku) 
5. Kasha ("Fire Chariot") (Miyabi Miyuki) 
6. Ten to Sen ("Points and Lines") (Matsumoto Seichou) 
7. Daiyuukai ("Big Kidnap") (Tendou Shin) 
8. Jukkakan no Satsujin ("The Decagon House Murders") (Ayatsuji Yukito) 
9. Mouryou no Hako ("The Mouryou Box") (Kyougoku Natsuhiko) 
10. Honjin Satsujin Jiken ("The Daimyou's Inn Murder Case") (Yokomizo Seishi) 

For those interested, Senseijutsu Satsujin Jiken (no. 3) is available in English as The Tokyo Zodiac Murders, Kasha (no. 5) as All She Was Worth and Ten to Sen (no. 6) as Points and Lines. Also interesting to note that Gokumontou retained its position as the absolute number one, and that Yokomizo is features twice in the top ten.

By the way, the following entries in the Japanese top 100 are also available in English: The Devotion of Suspect X (Higashino Keigo, 13), The Summer of the Ubume (Kyougoku Natsuhuko, 23). The Two Sen Copper Coin (Edogawa Rampo, 24), Inspector Imanishi Investigates (Matsumoto Seichou, 35), The Tattoo Murder Case (Takagi Akimitsu, 32), Beast in the Shadows (Edogawa Rampo, 35), The Inugami Clan (Yokomizo Seishi, 39), The Casebook of Hanshichi (Okamoto Kidou, 42), OUT (Kirino Natsuo, 43), Shinjuku Shark (Oosawa Arimasu, 65) and The Strange Tale of Panorama Island (Edogawa Rampo, 87; scheduled for this month).

Edit: The following books are also available in English (thanks to Dokuta of the Asia Mystery League): The Poison Ape: A Shinjuku Shark Tale (45, Oosawa Arimasu), The Red Star of Cadiz (85, Oosaka Gou), Zero Over Berlin (91, Sasaki Jou) and The Sleeping Dragon (99, Miyabe Miyuki).

Foreign (Non-Japanese) Top Ten:

1. And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie) 
2. The Tragedy of Y (Ellery Queen) 
3. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle) 
4. Phantom Lady (William Irish) 
5. The Murder of Roger Akroyd (Agatha Christie) 
6. The Long Goodbye (Raymond Chandler) 
7. The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco) 
8. Father Brown's Innocence (G.K. Chesterton) 
9. The Silence of the Lambs (Thomas Harris) 
10. The Burning Court (John Dickson Carr)

For those wondering, the Tragedy series by Queen have always been very well received in Japan. Almost enigmatically so. 

And commence commenting on the absurdity / correctness of these lists... now.

Original Japanese title(s): 週刊文春 『東西ミステリーベスト100』

4 comments:

  1. H'm. The list of Western titles does give the impression of being a fair and balanced one, covering a wide variety of styles and periods, but it's more an orientation list that you give to someone, who wants to start reading "crime" stories, than a best of list.

    And is The Burning Court more popular than The Hollow Man and the other usual suspects in Japan?

    Oer Hollands gezeik op een in Japan samengestelde lijst van Engelstalige boeken. :D

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    1. Carr also appeared on the 16th (The Three Coffins), 37th (The Emperor's Snuff-Box) and 44th (The Judas Window) place.

      The best received Queens are btw, Y (2nd), X (14th), Greek (23), Egypt (42), Cat (78th) and Calamity Town (90th). I raised an eye-brow there.

      By the way, the following entries in the Japanese top 100 are also available in English: Devotion of Suspect X (Higashino Keigo, 13), The Summer of the Ubume (Kyougoku Natsuhuko, 23). The Two Sen Copper Coin (Edogawa Rampo, 24), Inspector Imanishi Investigates (Matsumoto Seichou, 35), The Tattoo Murder Case (Takagi Akimitsu, 32), Beast in the Shadows (Edogawa rampo, 35), The Inugami Clan (Yokomizo Seishi, 39), The Casebook of Hanshichi (Okamoto Kidou, 42), OUT (Kirino Natsuo, 43), Shinjuku Shark (Oosawa Arimasu, 65) and The Strange Tale of Panorama Island (Edogawa Rampo, 87; scheduled for this month).

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  2. The only Japanese book that I have read is The Devotion of Suspect X which I read and reviewed recently. I quite liked it and am eager to read more of the author.

    You have a very interesting blog and I'd love to follow it but I can't see the GFC button anywhere. Do help.

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    1. Salvation of a Saint is a great sequel to The Devotion of Suspect X (also available in English). Not a big fan of A Midsummer's Equation (the third novel in the Galileo series), but I think the English release has already be confirmed (this year, or maybe next).

      And I think I added a GFC button in the side-bar just now. I think. I don't use it myself, so not sure whether everything is working the way they should.

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