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Re-covering The Translator

My very favorite novels are books that have had a bunch of different covers already (like The Great Gatsby), so I decided to go with a more recently published favorite book.

The Translator by Nina Schuyler is the story of a woman who speaks 6 different langauges and makes her living translating novels. She has just finished her best (she thinks) translation to date when she has an accident that leaves her with a brain injury that allows her to speak only Japanese (she can understand her other languages, just can't speak them.) She ends up going to Japan for a conference and meeting the author of the book she translated (who HATES her translation), as well as the man the book was based on. The book is a fascinating look at language and communication, and how we can brutally misunderstand others even when we speak the same language. 

This is the cover of the hardback. It was designed by Charles Brock. I love it- it references icons of Japan with the cherry blossoms and the the Noh masks, and the Noh masks also connect to a major plot element. They also symbolize a number of dichotomies in the book. I like how the title is between them, acting as a translator or mediator of sorts, and the yin/yang feel of the cherry blossoms coming from different sides. 

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This is the cover for the audio book. I couldn't find a reference for the designer. I don't find this cover nearly as effective. I do enjoy that "A Novel" is designed like a shunbun seal, and the colors are a nod to Japan, but the juxtaposition of the bamboo and the silhouette/ cameo doesn't work for me. I can see that the cameo is perhaps a reference to the Japan flag, but with the rest of the imagery and text, that reference gets blurry. 

Because the book concerns langauge and themes of misunderstanding, I'm thinking of doing something with key words in different languages, overlapping, obscuring each other. I'd definitely like to use kanji; I'm living in Tokyo right now, and don't read or speak Japanese, and not being able to even sound something out can be very disconcerting. I'd like to play with that. 

Now I'm off to reread the book!

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