Sunday, June 21, 2015

番外編: The Decagon House Murders Released

Hmm, in hindsight, I kinda wrote all I wanted to write on the topic in the announcement of this announcement, so maybe you should read that post too.

I already announced the release of the first English translation of AYATSUJI Yukito's debut novel back in May, but today I can announce the book is finally available (both paper and e-book, I think)! Locked Room International's release of The Decagon House Murders (Jukkakukan no Satsujin) was translated by me and is a brilliant homage to And Then There Were None where a group of students (and members of the local university mystery fiction club) are killed one by one during a little camp on a little island with a strange ten-sided building. It would be the first novel of the so-called shin honkaku (new orthodox) movement in Japan, which called for a return to smart, puzzle plot mysteries. Many writers would follow in the wake of The Decagon House Murders, making it one of the most important novels in recent detective fiction history in Japan. This English release includes an introduction by SHIMADA Souji (of The Tokyo Zodiac Murders) and a (short) postface by me.

Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review and selected the book as one of their Best Summer Books 2015. My own review of the Japanese version is here and other opinions of my fellow Japanese mystery bloggers about the original Japanese version can be found at My Japanese bookshelf and In the Threshold of Chaos.

And I'd of course love it if you would read the book, not just as the translator, but even more so as someone who really became a fan of Ayatsuji's works after reading this book and even went to study in Kyoto and like Ayatsuji, became a member of the Kyoto University Mystery Club.

And to finish with a quote from myself, made in 2011 in my review of the Japanese version:

But yes, Jukkakukan no Satsujin. Important. New Orthodox School. Read It.
Why isn't this translated in English?

I have to admit that I am a bit surprised how that turned out! I should cry out for more English translations and see what happens!

EDIT: Oh, totally forgot that Publishers Weekly also did an interview with Ayatsuji in connection to the book. You can read it here. (Actually, the 'final' product was slightly rewritten, I see, but I was the one who translated the interview.)

EDIT2: The Decagon House Murders was also reviewed by the Washington Post in 'The Decagon House Murders' invokes Agatha Christie - in Japan.

22 comments :

  1. congratulations!

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  2. Thanks for the heads up. I just bought my copy off Amazon.com. If this one does well, maybe you can get them to publish Moryo no Hako, the sequel to The Summer of the Ubume. I realize that Ubume did not sell well (as you have stated), but why should it? It was a book by an author unknown in the West, and I never saw it advertised at all. I picked it up just because I was one of the doubtless few Westerners who had seen the anime of Moryo (which was never completed). I still want to find out about those boxes.

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    1. Moryo no Hako actually was completely fan-subbed into English. All thirteen episodes plus the fourteenth Blu-ray special episode are easily found on streaming sites.

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    2. Thanks for the information.

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    3. Hope you'll like the book!

      The problem of Moryo no Hako is still its length, I think. I have the book somewhere, but it's /really/ big. It's hard to sell to the publisher and the audience (especially as those super-long novels are a bit more rare on this side, I think). It's the same with Nikaido Reito actually, most of his books are really long, so that's a very big hurdle in bringing over his books, I think.

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    4. Long mystery novels have lately become the rule rather than the exception here in the U.S. The average length is in the neighborhood of 400 pages. If you look at Ed McBain's 87th Precinct books, for instance, when they started in the 1950s, they averaged about 150 pages. Toward the end to the series they averaged closer to 350 pages. I think the reason is that readers have to spend a lot of money for new books and they want to get the best deal for their money. So length alone might be a selling point to the current audience.

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    5. I prefer longer mystery novels as well. I don't know how feasible it would be to go the original Japanese route by publishing lengthy works in two parts here in the West, but it would save some headaches at least in terms of binding.

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    6. Well, MIYABE Miyuki's extremely long "Puppet Master" is now being published in English in multiple volumes, just like the Japanese version (five volumes, I think?). Only digitally though. Together with AYATSUJI's Ankokukan no Satsujin and NIKAIDOU's Jinroujou no Kyoufu, probably the longest detective novels in Japan.

      So it's not completely possible, but you do need a publisher who dares to take the risk and have a model that makes sense financially. What I can tell you is that in Japan there's certainly the will and in some cases even initiatives started focusing on putting "Japanese detective fiction" more prominently on the international stage, but only the future can tell how those efforts will turn out.

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  3. I hope more japanese authors will be released

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  4. Do you think that if this sells well enough, more of the Yakata-series will get published in English? Would you take the job if presented?

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    1. It's all up to the publisher and Ayatsuji himself of course, but I imagine (hope) that if this book does well, they'll consider putting more out. And if possible, I'd definitely want to do it again.

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  5. I don't have the impression that Locked Room International does much effort to advertize their books though...
    It looks like only readers who have a long-time interest in locked room mysteries would buy this book, LRI should make it more available to the general public or else how on earth do they think it would sell well?

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    1. LRI tries to push its books through (positive) reviews in the major magazines, it seems; that's why we got an early review in PW (and an interview with Ayatsuji). Obviously, LRI doesn't have the same 'power' to push it books into all bookstores, so a lot of it will have to come from word-to-mouth, I think.

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  6. Just finished reading the book and absolutely LOVED it! Your translation was excellent and very readable. I came close figuring out the truth near the end, but I was still “colorfully shocked” as Ayatsuji says in his Publishers Weekly interview. Reflecting on this work and Another, the aspect of Ayatsuji’s writing that I most enjoy is the mental optical illusion. Readers not only need logical reasoning but also the critical thinking to pinpoint the wonderful “audacity” you mentioned in the afterword. Praying/wishing/hoping for a translation of The Water Mill House Murders in the future! :)

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    1. I am glad you loved the book (and the translation! Phew!). When I first spoke Mr. Ayatsuji about translating the book, he said he knew nothing about translating, so he'd let it all up to me, but the one thing I should pay attention to was to make sure I would convey the shock I felt when I first read the book (when "the" sentence comes). I'm happy to hear the translation too managed to shock you!

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  7. Sorry for the late response, but, once again, congratulation and I'll make it a point to read and review this one as soon as possible.

    I'm glad we finally live in the era where the supply overwhelmes the demand again. Just like in the Golden Age! Keep up the good work.

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    1. Thanks, and I hope you'll like the book! I actually haven't seen the thing myself yet because of circumstances =_=

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  8. Hello! I'm sorry for my poor English in advance.

    I found your blog not so long ago, but it already gave me so much enjoyment! I like reading not only about books/authors I will most likely never read (my knowledge of Japanese is basically 0) but also about stuff I have certain knowledge of (Detective Conan and detective video games are my favourite things ever).

    I really enjoyed various translations you've put up here. I hope you'll have an opportunity, time and desire to do more of these.
    Recently I had a pleasure to read The Decagon House Murders. Great book, entertaining and clever. Thank you very much for your work on it!

    There is also something that you can maybe help me with. I've read nearly all Japanese mystery novels there are in my native language (Russian that is), so now I want to dedicate my time to works translated in English. Is there perhaps any kind of list of such books on the Internet? It will save me so much time.

    And that's basically it. I just wanted to thank you for this amazing blog. There is so much more to read here so I'll be sticking around!

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    1. I'm happy you enjoy the blog, as well as The Decagon House Murders! It's definitely not over yet for translations on the blog, but I'll admit it's a rather irregular project (and there's also the selection process), so I can't say /when/.

      In the meantime, here's a Goodreads list of Japanese mystery novels available in English (a very up-to-date on too, as far as I can tell):
      http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/19227.Japanese_Mystery_Detective_Crime_Fiction_Translated_Into_English#25561888

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    2. Seems like exactly what I was looking for! Thank you very much.

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