Marie Antoinette's pastry slave (mark356) wrote,
Marie Antoinette's pastry slave

I swear I am more surprised every time I browse a shelf of books translated into Japanese from the English. I can't believe how many books have made it over!

All the teachers in the school have to write a 2-line blurb about one of the books in the library. This means that I needed to go and thoroughly check out their foreign section. (I've read many books in Japanese, but my all-time favorite books are still almost all English.) I'd never done that before-- I'll borrow a Japanese book, sure, but I usually prefer to read English books in the original English.

The foreign section is three 2-meter long bookshelves, front and back. If it were one set of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves it would be some nine meters long. That's huge-- way more books than I own. They have plenty of obvious classics (Harry Potter, all of the Narnia books, some Christopher Robin). Also a lot of my favorites: all of the Earthsea books, the His Dark Materials series, even about six Meg Cabot books. (The librarian said that most of the girls knew Meg Cabot.) Then there were a bunch of books that I'd sure enjoyed, but was still a bit surprised to see in translation: Hoot and Scat, Lionboy (the librarian said that that one was popular about ten years ago), Artemis Fowl. Not only Treasure Island but also The Bottle Imp.

I always feel like the trade is a bit unfair: there are plenty of Japanese authors who are at least as popular in Japan as Carl Hiassen is in America. Most people have probably read a couple of Higashino Keigo books even if they aren't big mystery readers. Every woman in the country knows Hayashi Mariko. You don't need to be big into sports books to read Asano Atsuko, either. Tsujimura Mizuki's story about a medium was made into a popular movie, as was part of one of Onda Riku's supernatural mystery series. A bunch of my kids like Yamada Yusuke, though I don't much like his brand of gross-out humor. But hands up anyone who doesn't know Japanese who knows any of these authors. Granted, the only author in this list who tends to write books classified as middle-grade here is Asano Atsuko, as opposed to, debatably, every English book listed above. But I'd be surprised to see translations of any of them in a library in America, and certainly not in a one-room school library.

When I found the collection of Diana Wyne Jones translations, I just stopped looking. They have all three Howl books, all six Chrestomancis, and even Hexwood and A Tale of Time City. My middle school library in America didn't even have all of those! (Please ignore that when I was in middle school there were only two Howl books and four Chrestomanci ones.) The only question is which: most of them know the Miyazaki film that shares a title with Howl's Moving Castle but not the actual book; and as an introduction to the Chrestomanci books, I can't decide whether I prefer the one written earlier (Charmed Life) or the one set earlier (The Lives of Christopher Chant). I am currently rereading those three in an attempt to decide.
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