The Great Passage by Shion Miura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter [in Booklist]
At 27, Majime – whose very name means “serious, diligent” – is recruited from sales by the Dictionary Editorial Department of Gembu Books to help compile The Great Passage, an überdictionary destined to guide users across the vast sea of words.
Socially awkward Majime embarks on a journey of nearly two decades, during which he comes to understand the deepest meanings of friendship, dedication, and everlasting love. His coterie, which once included only his landlady and a tubby kitty, grows to include fellow eccentric linguaphiles, his soulmate chef, and other extraordinary colleagues.
For English readers, this Japanese best-seller arrives in the U.S. as a symbiotic accomplishment. Miura provides the whimsical original, while Carpenter creates an exceptional English rendering in what was surely a supremely challenging feat of translation, further magnified by the story’s exactness of every word. In decoding the Japanese – a language already complicated by the possibilities of multilayered wordplay – Carpenter had to meticulously balance between transcribing word-for-word and providing too much linguistic context and/or cultural description, which would have dampened the ineffable cleverness of the original. Swirling with witty enchantment, The Great Passage proves to be, well, utterly great. Readers should be advised to get ready to sigh with delighted satisfaction and awe-inspiring admiration.
Published: 2017 (United States)