Monday, May 23, 2016

番外編: The Moai Island Puzzle Released

I only just realized I too have fallen in the trap of making announcements of announcements. So err, yeah, the content of today's announcement doesn't really differ from that of the announcement of this announcement.
 
Last month, I announced that Locked Room International would be publishing the first English translation of a novel by Alice ARISUGAWA soon. And now that time has come, for The Moai Island Puzzle is now available (both paper and digital, I think). The Moai Island Puzzle was translated by me, and it is a brilliant puzzle plot mystery that has basically everything: a treasure hunt on an island , a locked room murder, a Challenge to the Reader and one of the most impressive deduction scenes in mystery fiction. Arisugawa is obviously a big fan of Ellery Queen, but I'd say that this is the novel where Arisugawa outdoes Ellery Queen at his own game. If you're in search for a detective novel that celebrates logical reasoning and fair play, The Moai Island Puzzle is what you're looking for. The English version features an introduction by Souji SHIMADA (of The Tokyo Zodiac Murders), penned especially for this release. The book was originally published in 1989 with the title Kotou Puzzle, soon after Yukito AYATSUJI's The Decagon House Murders, and it is widely considered one of the Big Ones of Japanese detective fiction.

The Moai Island Puzzle is part of the Student Alice series. For those interested in the other books: I have a retrospective on the series. Oh, some might think that The Decagon House Murders and The Moai Island Puzzle might be alike, because both are set on islands and are Japanese etc., but I assure you, they are not alike at all. If The Decagon House Murders was Christie, then The Moai Island Puzzle is Queen.

Publishers Weekly gave The Moai Island Puzzle a starred review, and I hope more reviews will follow. My own old review of the original Japanese version can be found at this link (obviously written years before I even knew I would translate the book), and my we-write-English-reviews-of-Japanese-mystery-novels collegues over at My Japanese Bookshelf and In The Threshold of Chaos also have reviews available for your perusal.

Edit: JJ's review of The Moai Island Puzzle can be found over at his blog The Invisible Event

Anyway, not only as the translator, but also (especially) as someone who considers the book one of the most impressive mystery novels ever, I really hope the readers will enjoy The Moai Island Puzzle. This is Arisugawa's first release in the English language, but hopefully, it won't be the last.

15 comments :

  1. It really is a great puzzle novel, and a brilliant advert for honkaku I loved it - got a review coming on Wednesday. Thanks again for all your work on this; hope there's plenty more to come from you and LRI teaming up, because these two books have been a real thrill...!

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  2. Soji Shimada, Alice Arisugawa and Ayatsuji Yukito are considered the big three of Honkaku novels, right ?

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    1. There is no "Big Three". All those names are (very) big names in the industry, yes, but it's not like these three are some kind of triumvirate. Shimada is not considered shin honkaku by the way, 'just' honkaku.

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  3. also, I can't find it in digital anywhere

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    1. It's definitely available digitally through Amazon UK, so I imagine it will be coming to an Amazon wherever you are...

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    2. no it's not, there's only the paperback version

      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Moai-Island-Puzzle-Alice-Arisugawa/dp/1523935138/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1464115903&sr=8-1&keywords=arisugawa

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  4. I can't vouch for this particular translation, as I read the book in a different language before discovering that an English version was in the pipeline. But I definitely enjoyed the novel. :)

    I think I should hold back from reading anymore Japanese mystery novels in Chinese until I find out what your next translation project is!

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    1. I'll definitely try to announce future projects as soon as I can (am allowed).

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  5. I've just finished the Moai Island Puzzle and enjoyed it a lot. The translation was smooth and easy to read. The puzzle was very clever (although I found it a bit unbelievable) and the solution to the murders was logical, yet surprising (even though all the clues were fairly presented). I would certainly like to read the other 4 books in the series (interestingly called the "Amateur Detective Egami" series instead of the "Student Alice" series on Wikipedia). I'm hoping there will be more of your excellent translations in the future (I also enjoyed the translation of "Decagon House"!)

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed the book! I too hope that someday, I'll be able to translate the other books.

      As for the name of the series, some prefer to name it after the detective. Arisugawa has two main series, one where the student Egami is a detective, the other where the criminologist Himura is the detective, but both are assisted by "an" Alice. Egami's Alice is (obviously) a student, while Himura's Alice is a writer (they are different Alices though).

      So some people prefer to call the series the Egami series, or the Himura series, as opposed to the Student Alice series and the Writer Alice series.

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  6. Thank you so much for translating this novel! It was so exciting that I read this cover-to-cover. I've never read Ellery Queen before but I think I'll definitely love his works if this was anything to go by.

    I'm afraid I might have gone through it a little bit too fast though, so I'd appreciate it if you could clear up one question I have.

    SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!!
    SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!
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    If the killer had rode Hirakawa's bike back, then the number of bikes at Panorama Villa the night of Hirakawa's death should have been 3-4 depending on the time, not 2-3. How is it that there was a period when there were only 2 bikes?
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    SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!
    SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the book! Queen's early novels are very much like this one, 'puzzle-like', so I think you'll enjoy them too (the YA theme is all Arisugawa though).

      As for your question:

      SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!! SPOILERS!!!
      SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!
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      There were always three bicycles at the Panorama Villa. The murderer didn't use any of those bikes. But there was a period when the witnesses were in the hallway upstairs, and they could only see two bikes from up there because of the angle/position. So the third bike was in fact also there, they just couldn't see it from upstairs and thus couldn't swear it hadn't left its place at any time.

      The murderer obviously didn't ride all the way up the Panorama Villa in fear of being seen, so they parked the bicycle a bit further up the road.
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      SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!
      SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!! SPOILERS!!

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