Sunday, November 15, 2020

番外編: The Decagon House Murders Released Once More, with Feeling

Five years ago, Locked Room International released The Decagon House Murders, my translation of Ayatsuji's monumental 1987 novel Jukkakukan no Satsujin, about the members of a university mystery club who plan a visit on an abandoned island, only to be killed by a mysterious killer one after another. It would be the first novel of the so-called shin honkaku (new orthodox) movement in Japan, which was a call for authors and reader to return to intelligent 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. The release of the English-language version of The Decagon House Murders was of course a personal milestone, but putting it in the wider context, for many it was probably also their first steps into shin honkaku, and since then, I've been fortunate enough to be able to work with Locked Room International to bring more Japanese mystery fiction to the English-language world (In case you missed it, take a look at The Red Locked Room!). Since its release, The Decagon House Murders has seen some interesting and positive reviews. Personally, I have to admit that the Dirda piece in the Washington Post back in 2015 still made the most impression on me, especially as it really helped the word honkaku spread.

For some time now, Pushkin Press has been publishing Japanese mystery fiction, with prominent writers like Shimada and Yokomizo seeing both new translations, but also re-releases of older translations that had gone out of print. Some of the readers may have been aware of this already, but Pushin Press required the rights for The Decagon House Murders some time ago. And now their version's out! At least, I believe the e-book is available right now, while the physical book will follow in only a few weeks. It's a re-release, but the text has been brushed up by the new editors, and some help from myself of course and it's got a nifty new cover. Seriously, Pushkin has been hitting home-runs with these covers, and the first I was contacted over this new release, I couldn't help but be utterly excited about what kind of cover it would get!

Pushkin Press is based in the UK, so the e-book is out now and the physical release follows in the first week of December, while I think the US release is scheduled for next year, though that's kinda a moot point since you can just order anything from internet nowadays... Anyway, if you were still wondering about gifts for the holiday season, or just something to read yourself in the upcoming darker months, why not The Decagon House Murders?

31 comments :

  1. One of our publishers here in Russia just recently (this year) has launched the "Honkaku" series, in which, along with two books by Souji Shimada, they also published "The Decagon House Murders"! Which would maybe never happened without that English translation.
    I haven't read it myself yet , but I've heard a lot of good things about this book so I am super excited to get to it in the future (it's already waiting on my shelf).

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    1. There were of course also translations of Decagon available before the English version (like a French translation), but I have to admit it's pretty nice to see how the English release seems to have pushed publishers in other languages to also pick the book up the last few years!

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  2. Nice! I have the old one but I'll get this one eventually just for the awesome cover. Does it have Shimada's introduction from the LRI edition?

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    1. Both Shimada's introduction and my afterword are not included in this new edition, following Pushkin Press' house style. No endnotes either.

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  3. so instead of translating new novels they're releasing books that have already been released, ok

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    1. Pushkin has provided both re-releases of OOP translations, as well as brand-new translations of Shimada and Yokomizo's work. So who knows?

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  4. I'm really excited and have already pre-purchased mine! (although I own both the original jp and the Locked Room Int editions). I asked sometime ago in your Decagon House original post if there were any news regarding Water Mill House, Kiyoshi Shimada #2. I sincerely hope that Pushkin continues on with the following titles, kind-of like what they are doing with Soji Shimada post Tokyo Zodiac. Kind regards, and as always, keep up with this blog that is superb!

    Lp

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    1. Thanks! I honestly don't know anything about follow-up releases by Pushkin at this moment (could be they asked someone else), but it'd be nice of more would follow!

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  5. Do any of the other Ayatsuji yakata novels have the notoriety or acclaim/demand enough to get a translation?

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    1. The people who read this blog demand it, why is that never enough ;-;

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    2. The big one is definitely the award-winning Clock House (fifth).

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  6. I know I said this a few days ago, but congradulations! And that cover is amazing. I think it might be my favorite out of all of Pushkin's covers. (I mean, it's got the map right on the front! How cool is that?) It's a shame about the endnotes though. They're always one of the things I most look forward to in your translations.

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    1. Thanks! Endnotes are something I *love* personally in translated fiction. Ever read a manga edited by Carl Gustav Horn (editor for publishers like Dark Horse and Viz)? I LOOOOOVE the pages full of interesting endnotes he sometimes adds to his work like Excel Saga and The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.

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    2. I don't think I have, although I've seen Excel Saga at one of the libraries I frequent. If I'd have known that it had endnotes I probably would have started reading it. (And that's not an exaggeration. I read a bit of Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei at another library just because I'd heard that each volume had 10-15 pages of endnotes.)

      Two of my favorite endnotes (although not from a translation) are in a non-fiction book I have (something by Douglas Hofstadher, I think): "Infinite Loops: See Recursion." and "Recursion: See Infinite loops."

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    3. Horn's notes are comprehensive and include all kinds of interesting trivia, but what I really like is that once in a while, he'll even include a personal touch in between, like connecting some note with something he himself experienced.

      I still love this piece on him at Overlooked Manga Festival: https://shaenon.livejournal.com/44554.html

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  7. I thought the end notes were the best part of Excel Saga, which was itself an excellent manga.

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    1. I like the anime better: it's not a straightforward adaptation and leans much harder on the parody elements, but that makes it such a unique series to watch. I believe the US home video releases also comes with tons of liner notes :P

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    2. You are right. Back in the glory days of DVD release of anime in the U.S. (circa 2003), ADV put pop-up cultural liner notes called AD Vid-Notes which would come up during the episodes. Nowadays, all you get are bare-bones releases (however, generally in sets and much cheaper). The manga and the anime are so different that they are almost two separate works.

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  8. Are you gonna translate more of yukito Ayatsuji's mansion series? I'd love to see more of Kiyoshi shimada ��

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    1. Let's hope someone will ask me to translate more of them :P

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    2. Yeah I'm in desperate needs of more mystery novels from Japanese authors. I've finished all of soji shimada's work that is translated to eng(which is sadly not many). And recently finished the 8 mansion murders and the moai island puzzle.

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    3. Locked Room International has one more honkaku mystery planned for 2020! And there's a new hardcover version of The Honjin Murders that reveals in its description that translations of Gokumon Island and The Village of Eight Graves are coming soon!

      Congratulations on the Decagon re-publication, Ho-Ling! Here's hoping your translation reaches even more new fans and prompts further translation opportunities, both from LRI and Pushkin! ^_^

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    4. Great news about LRI! What's the honkaku planned for 2020?

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    5. Gokumontou is getting translated? Awesome! I was hoping that that would be the next one to see an English release.

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    6. John Pugmire hasn't announced the honkaku title, he just wrote in his blog that one is planned as LRI's last release of the year.

      And yes! So excited for Gokumon Island and Eight Graves! They're not listed in Pushkin's January-June 2021 catalogue so maybe they'll be out in the latter half of the year? I'm assuming Louise Heal Kawai is the translator and I love her work. :D

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    7. I would guess that she'd be the one to translate them, given both the quality of her work and how well recived her translations have been. I've not yet read The Honjin Murders, but I thought she did a very good job on Murder in the Crooked House.

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    8. Nice that the other Yokomizo's are confirmed too. It's no surprise they went with those titles, because those are definitely the best (and best known) ones from the Kindaichi series.

      As for LRI's honkaku release, I'm sure you'll understand that at this point, I'm not going to say anything more than the publisher has now~

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    9. A belated congratulations on the re-release, Ho-Ling, but I'm even more excited to read that a translation of Gokumon Island is in the works!

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    10. Personally, I think that'll be the one most interesting to see in translation, as one of its iconic moments is very language-specific.

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  9. I follow a translated fiction blog called Books and Bao and they've published a glowing review of your translation and the Decagon re-publication! I'll attach the YouTube review here but YAY Ho-Ling! So happy you're getting recognition! :D

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNN1eU--WP8

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