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Japan

Feb 19 2014

Second-Rate Novelist

by Jesse M

the serialist coverThese days, David Gordon knows the value of a good translator. His debut novel, originally published in America under the title The Serialist, won the 2011 First Novelist Award and was a finalist for the Mystery Writers of America’s 2011 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. However, despite these accolades, Gordon says his daily life didn’t change much; that is, until a Japanese translation of the book was published. Then things really took off.

Gordon relates the surreal story of his overseas success in a recent New York Times article. After being translated into Japanese by Aoki Chizuru and retitled “Niryuu Shousetsuka” (which translates back into English as “Second-Rate Novelist”), Gordon’s book won a trio of major Japanese literary awards, an unprecedented feat. The book was then adapted into a Japanese film, and Gordon was invited to the premiere, followed by a week-long tour of book signings and interviews. To view a brief clip of him speaking during this tour, check out this youtube video.

In addition to the NYT article, Gordon also recently did a Q&A session on the popular website reddit.

To see what all the fuss is about, you can reserve a copy of the book yourself through the DCPL catalog. If you’ve already read this book, tell us what you thought about it in the comments.

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Oct 29 2009

Manga Library

by Jesse M

astro-boy-number-one Tokyo based Meiji University has announced plans to open the world’s first manga library, in order to help promote serious study of the style. Upon its inception (“hopefully” by early 2015) the proposed institution will house over two million comic books, animation drawings, and other related industry items. For those that aren’t familiar with the word, manga is simply the Japanese word for comics. In the US and elsewhere it is often used as a catch-all term to refer to any comic created or originally published in Japan, though it is also considered to be a distinct artistic style and format and therefore other works may be referred to as manga despite not originating in Japan (such as “Amerimanga” or “Manwha“). Whereas in the US, comic books are more typically associated with costumed superheroes, manga is published in every genre, from horror to romance to science fiction to sports, just to name a few. Despite its broad range, manga can generally be divided into two categories based on target demographic, with shonen manga designed to appeal to boys and shojo manga aimed at girls. Due to its Japanese origins, most manga is printed front to back, so that the book is read from right to left (some manga series published for the US market are printed in the traditional manner, however, such as Astro Boy). Another distinguishing feature of manga are the artistic quirks; characters are often drawn with large eyes and small mouths and noses, and internal emotional states are naruto-number-1-coverdisplayed by using iconography such as beads of sweat on the forehead to indicate embarrassment or bulging, pulsing veins in the same area to express anger. For more extensive information, recommendations, and more eloquent explanations about the different types of manga, take a look at these posts by a former DCPL blogger on the subject (Manga Mania part 1, part 2, and part 3) To conclude, here are a few of my favorite manga. Some of the titles have been adapted into anime series that the DCPL catalog stocks on DVD, and I have linked them in parentheses. Enjoy!

Naruto (DVD): The quintessential ninja manga (though some might argue the seminal Dragonball series of comics are more deserving of that appellation).

one-piece-number-one-coverOne Piece: If pirate adventures are more your style, this is the series for you. ranma-1-half-number-oneAnd last but certainly not least, Ranma 1/2: An excellent example of the eclectic and varied nature of manga, Ranma 1/2 tells the tale of martial artists who fall into cursed springs and as a result upon contact with cold water take the form of whoever, or whatever, died in the spring they fell into (they revert back to normal when exposed to warm water). The martial arts action is tempered with a healthy dose of romantic comedy which makes for rousing entertainment for teenagers and adults alike.

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Feb 6 2008

Manga Mania Part 1

by Heather O

Manga: You’ve heard it, probably seen it, and almost every 10-25 year-old in the country can name several series and characters. The word “manga” refers to Japanese comic books and many serious fans (otaku) can argue that only comics drawn in Japan are actual manga, but the Japanese style is so mainstream and popular that it has become a global phenomena.

Manga_read
Manga style is different from Western comics in several ways: it is read from right to left, multiple episodes are bound into books instead of single episode pamphlets, characters are drawn with exaggerated emotions and actions to the point being cartoonish, some characters (especially girls and ‘good’ guys) are often drawn in a rounded style with largeManga5_2

round eyes and small round mouths, fewer words are used allowing fast action to move the plots forward, and manga is primarily drawn in black and white with a single or few
color inserts. Sometimes manga can be very “lost in translation”, you may wonder about some joke you don’t get or why all of the sudden the super-extreme close-up of the action seems to take more than one page. Characters can often be drawn so cute and so pretty that you have to read a little dialogue before you discover that the pretty girl is actually a boy, especially if they have long purple hair (manga is full of crazy hair). To add even more confusion, gender switching slapstick is almost as popular in manga as big robots.

Manga3_3

Since manga is read by all ages and genders in Japan, there are different styles of manga appealing to everyone’s taste. Shonen manga for boys and teens, is usually action packed and funny. Shoujo (shojo) is aimed at girls and teens, so melodrama and romance are featured. For men and older teens, the seinen genre can contain more adult themes including violence, serious themes, and sexuality. Older teens  and women have the josei (redikomi) genre that has been compared to some of the paperback romance novels or even nighttime soap operas popular in the United States; these manga tend to have more realistic romantic situation or more adult themes. Finally, Kodomo is a genre aimed at younger kids.

Some Web Resources:

Great guide to all kinds of graphic novels including manga written by a librarian: No Flying, No Tights

Public Library of Brookline has a great FAQ for teens and parents interested in manga.

Wired magazine has a cool, interactive manga 101 site.

Manga for Parents

Next on Part 2: Now I know what it is, what should I read and what does the library have?

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